Dark Kitchens | What’s next?


  • Dark Kitchens - credits van Spronsen & Partners

Our colleague Leonie van Spronsen blogs about the phenomenon of ‘Dark Kitchens’. Currently these companies mainly focus on fast food and fast casual meals, but why not deliver high-quality meals from highly commended chefs from a virtual restaurant?

Dark Kitchens | What’s next?  

My colleague Marguerita Vogelsang wrote a blog about the development of so-called Dark Kitchens in the Netherlands last week. As you could read, we concluded that this concept is still relatively new in the Netherlands and that starting a ‘virtual restaurant’ requires a different type of entrepreneur. Not the passionate hospitality enthusiast, but someone who wants to run an efficient and organized business.   

We were discussing the future of this concept during a ‘virtual’ brainstorm with colleagues. Will it be tied to a range of simple fast food-like products due to a lack of passion for food in management? A shame, right? While it could be as simple as 1+1=2.  

Over 15 years ago, I ate at a restaurant in Marrakesh by the brothers Pourcel, famous chefs at that time with a three Michelin-star restaurant in Montpellier. As it turned out the Pourcel brothers only associated their name and recipes to this restaurant. This way, the Moroccan fairy-tale setting of the restaurant merged with the innovative high-quality cuisine of the famous chefs. I remember that we found it strange, new and cool back then. A new business model.  Now there is nothing new about this; well-known chefs do it (e.g. Gordon Ramsay), three star michelin chefs (e.g., Yannick Alleno) do it and it’s a way for local heroes from big cities to show themselves to the rest of the world. We recently heard one of the latest example of this: Parisian chef Cyril Lignac will take over the restaurant at the InterContinental Amstel Hotel next year.  

So, one could wonder if this is also is the future of Dark Kitchens? The concept does not have to be greatly adjusted, in fact, it might be easier. The entrepreneur can run the company, a well-known chef helps to develop the recipes and sells her or his name to the concept. This chef increases her or his market share and fame, and the ‘Dark Kitchen’-entrepreneur can run a successful business. Perhaps more important: guests can more often, and maybe even on another level, enjoy meals from these chefs. We have already seen chefs opening restaurants next to their Michelin-starred restaurant where they focus on a more simplistic kitchen and tasty meals for a reasonable price. There are plenty of examples of these initiatives, like Café Cliché by Sidney Schutte in Amsterdam and three Michelin starred chef Jonnie Boer opened Brass Boer in Zwolle.   

Of course, it is not that simple and there are aspects like Quality Control that need to be assured, chefs have to be absolutely sure to protect their brand and the meals have to be easy to transport. But these are details that can be arranged and some chefs have already experimented with this during this corona period. There are several chefs well known Dutch chefs who currently deliver their meals throughout the Netherlands.   

I hope we will see this more often in the future, it seems like a fantastic way of expanding the culinary market and to make and keep great meals accessible for everyone.   

Leonie van Spronsenconsultant at Van Spronsen & Partners hospitality consultants. You can contact her through mail at leonievanspronsen@spronsen.com or by telephone: +3171 541 88 67.   

Van Spronsen & Partners hospitality consultants are a hospitality consulting firm for the Dutch hospitality and leisure industry with more than 30 years of experience. Our activities include feasibility studies, performance improvements for restaurants and hotels, developing new catering concepts, marketing & communication, consultancy for municipalities and management support. We know all the details of the Dutch hospitality market.   

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