Deliveroo’s dark kitchens are ‘catering from car parks’

A Guardian report into Deliveroo’s off-site catering facilities has described its kitchens as metal boxes ‘tucked away in car parks or on industrial estates’.

The delivery giant, which made sales of almost £130m in the UK last year, unveiled its ‘Deliveroo Editions’ concept earlier this year, with its founder branding the portable kitchens its biggest development since its launch.

The prefabricated structures are designed to help restaurants split up their in-house dining and delivery services, bring restaurant food to locations without the need for bricks-and-mortar eateries.

According to the Guardian, Deliveroo was targeting 200 dark kitchens on 30 UK sites by the end of 2017, but it said the number presently stands at 66 kitchens on 11 sites.

Ten of those kitchens are based on a single site in Blackwall, where they are geared up to serving the busy Canary Wharf catchment area.

A reporter who visited the site described them as metal boxes of a similar size to a shipping container. “They are fitted with industrial kitchen equipment, and two or three chefs and kitchen porters are at work in each, preparing food for restaurants including the Thai chain Busaba Eathai, the US-style MeatLiquor diners, the Franco Manca pizza parlours and Motu, an Indian food specialist set up by the family behind Mayfair’s Michelin-starred Gymkhana,” the report said.

The boxes have no windows and many of the chefs work with the doors open, through which they can be seen stirring huge pans or flipping burgers, according to the paper. “Outside there are piles of spare equipment, mops in buckets, gas cylinders for the stoves and large cans of cooking oil,” it wrote.

Five of Deliveroo’s 11 sites use the metal boxes, the Guardian said, while others are in adapted buildings. As well as London, Deliveroo operates pop-up kitchens in Leeds, Reading and Hove.

“The locations may be unglamorous, but one dark kitchen in Southwark, south London, is turning out rotisserie chicken for the pricey Notting Hill-based specialist Cocotte. There are also outposts for Gourmet Burger Kitchen, the trendy pizza joint Crust Bros and the Soho sushi bar Yoobi,” it wrote.

“Deliveroo has big ambitions for its Rooboxes, with plans to open more in London’s Swiss Cottage, Nottingham and Cambridge soon, and Manchester and Birmingham lined up for more boxes next year. Deliveroo finds and equips the locations, then rents them out to the restaurants, which employ and train the kitchen staff.”

The Guardian claimed that two chefs told it that working in the metal boxes was either hot or cold, depending on the weather and whether they are cooking or prepping. It said one site houses a pizza oven that takes up more than a third of the space and makes it extremely hot.

Pizza chain Franco Manca told the paper that chefs get extra money for working in the box because “there is no interaction with front-of-house staff”. It also encourages chefs who may not be keen to work in a metal box in a car park.

The full article can be read HERE.

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One Comment;

  1. Alistair said:

    And they wonder why they cannot get skilled (or even semi-skilled) staff to work in the catering industry. When the EU nationals vote with their feet over the next 18 months, either wages will have to go up or operations will close down.

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