Proliferation of “dark kitchens”: a (too) buoyant market

Illustration in a residential district of Toulouse (Haute-Garonne). We could have installed a traditional restaurant there, but instead, we find a dozen cuisines: Asian, Brazilian or even specialties based on cordon bleu. The chef has barely 13 m² to prepare his dishes and he must donate up to 30% of the price of a menu to delivery platforms. “I do everything: shopping, production and service. It’s quite practical in the sense that I’m in my kitchen and the ‘dark kitchen’ takes care of the rest”, explains Jennifer Maroselli-Elicha, founder of Cordon B, in the video of the 8 p.m. news at the top of this article. The rest is the counter where customers order their meals via an application or directly in front of a terminal, and where delivery people wait. Without them and their often hellish speeds, there would be no “dark kitchens”.

And the market is buoyant. To install a kitchen, it’s the same principle as a furnished rental, explains Éric Descargues, co-founder with Florent Garin of “Popafood” in Toulouse. “In each box, there is a fridge, an extractor hood, a refrigerated worktop, air conditioning and air compensation, essential when you are in a kitchen. If we have anticipated things well, in a week, we starts. You arrive, it’s turnkey”, he said. All for 1000 euros per month. Ultimately, the owners of the premises have very ambitious objectives. “We can perhaps take out 600 to 900 meals a day and we try to multiply the channels to distribute, always with the digital tool”, advance Florent Garin.

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