The appeal of fine dining from home did much to fuel the rise of the Capital’s Deliveroo business. No longer were your take-out and delivery food options limited to Indian and noodles, as with the help of Deliveroo, you could get almost any meal you wanted, from any restaurant, whenever you wanted it. It took the restaurant business by storm and legions of satisfied customers spread the good news.

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Staying ahead of the competition

But it wasn’t long until others saw space in the market for them too. JustEat and UberEats were quick to cash in on a market estimated to be worth £53 billion by 2020. However, Deliveroo stayed ahead of the curve by doing something rather special, they stuck to bikes and gave up mopeds after residents and councils complained of the noise. This gave them the edge. They were welcome in residential areas. There was just one small problem, bikes can only travel so fast and with hot food, that’s an issue.

Thinking outside the box

Deliveroo combated this by setting up 11 sites, which are home to 66 dark kitchens. These sites are located in London, Leeds, Reading and Hove and are packed full of catering equipment in Leicester, too. The kitchens are semi-franchised businesses of some of Deliveroo’s most loved restaurants. Dotted around the country, they allow the business to deliver hot food, and fast, to thousands of hungry mouths a day.

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Not what I ordered

However, all has not gone to plan for the company. A backlash against these so-called ‘dark kitchens’ has sprung up. The customers object to having their food made off-site and there seems something slightly underhand about the practice. While real premises restaurants are paying for good equipment from providers such as, the dark kitchens seem to be hiding their operations and facilities inside large metal container boxes. Whereas customers want a piece of their favourite restaurant atmosphere brought to their front door, what they’re receiving is something quite different.

The company is also facing a backlash from the councils it once wooed. Located under bypasses and on vacant lots, these busy dark kitchens are often falling foul of local regulations by describing themselves as temporary structures. And don’t ask the local Indian delivery service what they think. You won’t get a polite answer.