What are dark kitchens and why they are so popular in the Covid era

by Stephen Gilpin

Expression of social eating is a home restaurant: a space, normally private, which thanks to the initiative and resourcefulness of those who love to cook becomes an occasional meeting place for those interested in sharing recipes, authentic flavors and specialties as well as experiencing a new opportunity for socializing commercial kitchen rental.

Lately the formula of the invitation to taste the recipes in the chef’s home, the home restaurant, is being accompanied by the preparation of specialties in their own kitchen to be delivered to home (Kitchen and Delivery). And that’s not the only example. Wanting to frame the new trend historically, it is an evolution of catering , the first example of home delivery of food albeit in a context of events and certainly not used to order, at least until a few years ago, via app and web commissary kitchen.

During the lockdown, as is known, all food delivery , the delivery of food (as well as food shopping and in general everything, including drugs) exploded and according to analysts it will be one of the ‘legacies’ of the pandemic.Many restaurants, which are struggling to reopen to the public, also keep their kitchens running for home delivery as was done in the days of quarantine. So-called ghost kitchens , ghost kitchens – cooking facilities that produce food for delivery only , with no on-site or customer-dedicated eating areas – could create a $ 1 trillion dollar global opportunity.


The Covid has transformed the restaurant connotations. From traditional logic based largely on in-room service, the sector, forced by the months of lockdown and distancing, has accelerated the introduction of technology and adopted models based on the delivery and management of takeaway orders. One of the rapidly growing formulas in such a turbulent context for the out-of- home , which is weighed down by the heavy restrictions for the premises envisaged by the last Dpcm, is that of the so-called dark kitchens.

They are kitchens without showcase, without room , without service, in practice “ without restaurant” , designed to prepare and deliver “ food on demand” . Technically they are one of the types of virtual kitchens – even if by extension this term is often used as a synonym – which also include cloud kitchens (in which a space is rented to several brands that thus work in co-working) and ghost kitchens. (in which an operator decides to structure a laboratory dedicated exclusively to delivery, unlike the dark ones where the existing kitchen of a restaurant is destined for food for delivery.