A new culinary concept is taking the restaurant industry by storm. In response to the turbulent times of 2020, “ghost kitchens” have surged in popularity as the new way to dine. Take a look at how Monaco is embracing the trend.

As most restaurants have been forced to close their doors over the past year, the phenomenon of “virtual kitchens” has gained serious traction. Also known as “ghost” or “dark kitchens”, they provide a take-away service delivered straight to your door. Originally set up in America, France has since caught on to the trend, boasting 1,500 such kitchens to date.

Asian food is leading the way

Bao Bao, a restaurant known for its Asian buns, has recently hopped on this trend, starting up their own delivery service just three weeks ago. It has been a huge hit. In fact, the service is so popular they actually had to close their restaurant for a few days whilst they hired and trained more staff. Arthur Rozewicz has always wanted to enter into the food industry, and opening a virtual kitchen seemed the perfect way to do so “without being forced to permanently close due to the pandemic.”

It’s hard to run the restaurant and offer a delivery service at the same time

After opening just over a month ago, sushi restaurant Monaki already receives between 30 and 50 orders a day. In his restaurant, Anthony Bertolotto is able to provide table service but “it is hard to run the restaurant and offer a delivery service at the same time.” As a result, Bertolotto has decideded to focus on take-away and home delivery services.

A whole host of advantages

In Monaco, it has been over four weeks now that restaurants have been unable to open in the evenings. Fortunately for dark kitchens, they do not have to abide by the same rules. Being able to deliver means these businesses can take orders until 9pm. In addition, these kitchens are ten times cheaper to run than standard restaurants, due to their reduced size and no need for waiting staff. As a result, Monaki can offer “much more attractive prices compared to other sushi places” in Monaco.

All that is needed is a kitchen. It may sound simple having just one component, but to make this a recipe for success, excellent organisation is key. Owner of Bao Bao explains how “food is prepared in advance, so when an order comes in all we have to do is bake the bun and make sure the dish is well-presented.”

Challenges to be overcome

Although there are many positive points to make about this new trend, it does have a downside too. As customers do not come into the restaurant, it is quite challenging to establish relationships with them. Some establishments, such as Bao Bao and Monaki, have turned to Instagram to try and forge a connection with consumers. When asked about these challenges, the sushi restaurant’s manager admitted that he did not think these kitchens “would take off so quickly.”

2020 was a difficult year, but ghost kitchens bring a silver lining, breathing new life to the restaurant industry. There may only be few in Monaco at the moment, but Giruadi, owner of the Beefbar restaurant, has big plans to develop the concept. Looking to the future, they aspire to join lots of dark kitchens together, creating one central base where all different types of cuisine will be made. Thai, Indian and more will be cooked in the same kitchen before being delivered straight to customers’ door in no time at all.

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