How Delivery Services Are  Impacting Restaurant Supply Chains 

The revolution of delivery services is making a substantial impact on the restaurant industry. 

While food delivery is nothing new, breakout services like Uber Eats and DoorDash have capitalized on what customers want most: convenience. As the restaurant industry continues to evolve, we see the emergence of concepts like dark kitchens to meet the demand. Dark kitchens also known as delivery-only restaurants, ghost or virtual kitchens describes an industrial kitchen space dedicated solely to preparing food for delivery. According to Forbes, by the year 2025, the online food delivery industry will reach $200 billion. That is a vast majority of the market that would rather have their meals delivered rather than visit a traditional sit-down restaurant. This new trend is not only how restaurants are preparing food, but also their entire logistical supply chain.  

When done correctly, dark kitchens allow for more food output without the potential of delivery services interrupting dine-in patron’s meals or delayed delivery times.

Dark kitchens streamline the culinary process by creating more space for back-of-house equipment, eliminates distractions and creates a substantially higher food meal output, including 24-hour food preparation. These stand-alone spaces eliminate the need for supplementary perks such as parking, stylish furniture, trendy ambiance and popular location. While this new trend could save money, it also creates new challenges, including potential impacts on a restaurant’s supply chain. 

Food delivery services are changing the way people enjoy their meals, and though the concept of dark kitchens has been around for a while, if it isn’t implemented correctly, a restaurant could lose profit on both sides, delivery and in-house dining. When done correctly, dark kitchens allow for more food output without the potential of delivery services interrupting dine-in patron’s meals or delayed delivery times.

Companies looking to convert or add this new type of concept to their kitchens need to be prepared. The supply chain process for this type of restaurant changes drastically, including the logistics involved with kitchen technology and equipment moves. It is vital to rely on the support of a supply chain partner that specializes in handling this new type of workload.

Recruiting a high-quality third-party logistics (3PL) partner can be a gamechanger when making this type of extreme logistical shift. The concern for many restaurants is that some 3PL providers may not be able to meet the challenges of transitioning to a dark kitchen. However, a trusted provider should be flexible and scalable enough to meet the demands of this new marketplace.

3PL’s offer more than just guidance on logistics; they enhance the entire process by providing support from all angles and minimizing any output disruption. If any equipment goes down, 3PL’s offer staged equipment in a nearby warehouse and have the necessary means to get it delivered quickly. Normal carriers can take up to ten days to deliver and this can equate to thousands of dollars of lost profits and disgruntled customers. With this shift in the restaurant industry, 3PL’s anticipate delivering more equipment and technology and less furniture.

With the help of the right 3PL, a restaurant should be able to scale this new industry seamlessly. If a 3PL can act more as a project manager, then they can bring more to the table and take more weight off of the restaurant manager’s shoulders. If implemented correctly, it will positively impact the restaurant industry across both sides, delivery and in-house dining. Higher delivery demand doesn’t have to translate to slower or less in-house dining with the implementation of dark kitchen locations. It’s the best of both worlds and provides the best experience for dine in patrons and take out customers.