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  • Stephan Busch

Ghost kitchens - should we be scared?

Ghostkitchen - ghost kitchens pop up everywhere. In order to overcome, or at least survive, the crisis, out-of-home delivery is now widespread. But how good is that and will that be something that lasts?

Who actually cooks in such a ghost kitchen?

Stern magazine explained this in an article which, however, raises many questions.

“Almost all restaurants now offer a delivery service in addition to traditional on-site meals. But not all restaurants cook these delivery meals themselves. More and more restaurateurs are outsourcing the preparation in "ghost kitchens". These are kitchens that are operated by external companies and that do not appear by name. “

(Tina Poker, 20.08.2020 Stern

Not appearing by name makes one worry. Who cooks there? Who checks hygiene and cleanliness?

“There is, for example, the US company Reef Technology from Miami, which has committed itself to giving unused parking spaces a new purpose. Reef already has mobile kitchens in 18 cities and in more than 70 parking lots in the USA, in which meals ordered online are prepared for restaurants, reports "The New Yorker".

Tina Poker, 08/20/2020 stern

So there is cooking going on in the parking lot? What about sewage, garbage disposal? Hygiene? Is this a business address or a camping car? Then there is the company Cloudkitchen which supplies over 3000 restaurants but also has to cook somewhere. Hardly on a cloud as the name might suggest.

Kitopi is a very successful company in London but also in the Middle East which also specializes in ghost kitchens.

“A big player in ghost kitchens is based in Dubai. Kitopi customers include more than 100 restaurants in the Middle East. The concept is simple: the restaurants pass the additional workload that arises from the delivery offer to Kitopi's kitchens. The company produces over 200,000 meals a week on behalf of others. The fact that the pizza is not made in the small trattoria on the corner, but rather by unknown cooks, remains mostly unknown.”

Tina Poker, 8/20/2020 stern

So if I order the pizza from Angelo the Italian around the corner, it could be Kitopi who does the work. Well, Angelo deserves it of course and he didn't have to remodel his kitchen and probably fired his cooks after all? Hopefully they cook at Kitopi's at least.

A little fear is maybe not bad because hopefully they are as chic as all the companies present themselves on the Internet. Hopefully.

“Because the infrastructure of ghost kitchens makes it possible for restaurants to offer their delivery service almost anywhere - without having to be on site themselves, without great economic risk and without having to go through lengthy bureaucratic processes. The virtual presence of the restaurants is sufficient.”

Tina Poker, 8/20/2020 stern

Without lengthy bureaucratic processes is nice for the ghostkitchen, but why isn't that also possible for normal restaurants which also pay taxes and have to fight their way through the whole bureaucracy? What would happen if Angelo suddenly started cooking in the parking lot around the corner?

All companies like Reef Technology, Kitopi are registered companies and if they meet the standards that are expected it is a good line of business. But Angelo and the others might disappear completely soon and we will then have to rely on mass production that may seem less bureaucratic? Is that the way in the right direction?

Author: Stephan Busch, Academic Director at the State University for the Humanities Moscow RGGU, Faculty of Tourism & Hospitality and the Swiss International University earned his Master Certificate in Hospitality Management from Cornell University, USA. He has a diverse experience in launching operations, business development and service training- for hotel and cruise companies in Asia, Europe, Canada and Russia.,

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