EDITOR’S VIEW: ‘Airbnb’ for kitchens might not be as crazy as it sounds

Andrew Seymour grayscale

Restaurants are under noticeably more pressure these days to get the most out of their investments, and that goes for their kitchen estate as much as anything else.

There was a time when eateries simply did breakfast and lunch, or only opened in the evenings, but for many that has now switched to providing a service across all periods of the day. This is all perfectly understandable — and logical — on both an economical and operational level.

I’ve written previously about the need for foodservice operators to ‘sweat their assets’ and the way in which this is influencing kitchen design and specification. But this line of thinking is not the only answer.

Could we see a situation in the future where instead of sweating fixed assets, companies simply use kitchens as and when they need them? We will if Charlie and Emma Jones are to be believed. They are the entrepreneurs behind ‘Kitchup’, the first online market place for kitchen space.

Their aim is to bring the sharing economy to the foodservice market by matching underused commercial kitchens with food businesses in London.

They currently list more than 70 kitchens across the capital, varying from industrial kitchen units and show kitchens to churches, public buildings and coffee shops. If it sounds like ‘Airbnb’ for the kitchen sector then that’s because it is. In a nutshell, kitchen owners get to connect with food businesses looking to hire more flexible and affordable production space.

With the food-to-go market expected to treble by 2020 and tech companies such as Deliveroo and UberEATS driving up demand for convenience food all hours of the day, there is clearly an opportunity to help restaurants and food start-ups find the capacity they need to produce additional food, especially when you’ve reportedly got chains contemplating ‘delivery-only’ kitchens because it’s a fifth of the cost of opening a physical restaurant.

As businesses explore the most cost-effective way to operate kitchens, anything and everything has to be up for discussion.

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