A Central Kitchen and a Dark Kitchen. What's the difference and can they work together?
The emergence of central and dark kitchens is due to the ever changing consumer behaviour and provides many opportunities for those within the restaurant industry.
Our industry leads the way in finding innovative solutions to satisfy demand while reducing overheads but decreasing the amount of food waste.
These two types of kitchens, allow restaurants to follow a path of growth by operating a streamlined and consistent approach to production.
Here we explore both the central and dark kitchen concepts closer and assess whether there is room for both in a business model.
A Central Kitchen/Central Production Unit (CPU) A central kitchen sits at the centre of restaurant kitchen operations and offers space to store and prepare food for different sites, all from a centralised location. They can be used by smaller footprint establishments who don’t have enough storage or space for food preparation and who may want to maximise their dining space.
What are the benefits? 1. Increases efficiency A central kitchen/CPU is where all food is stored and prepared. Having those ingredients all in one place helps to track inventory, manage production and better serve customers. The production process can be automated, allowing employees to focus on other aspects of the business.
2. It’s cost effective Having everything in one place cuts costs. Having the space to store ingredients also allows the business to buy in bulk and with inventory tracking, there will be less waste.
3. Allows for increased growth If products are produced in one location, it opens a business up to having lots of smaller stores throughout an area or city. Larger batches can be produced centrally and distributed to the wider network, improving margins, efficiency and maintaining quality control.
4. Consistency of product By having a centralised production process, recipes can easily be replicated, creating a consistency of quality across the restaurants. This is great for the customer because they can expect the same quality whichever site they purchase from. It’s invaluable to the business because they’re able to guarantee the same levels of consistency.
5. Other income opportunities If there are times when the central kitchen capacity isn’t fully utilised, the space can then be offered to smaller restaurants or pop up stalls to enable them to increase their operational capacity.