The Asian Catering Federation (ACF), which represents the nation’s 30,000 Asian and Oriental eateries, has warned that the rise of ‘dark kitchens’ could kill off restaurants and takeaways.
Chairman Yawar Khan said there was a risk that local takeaways could be “lost forever” if they aren’t supported by customers and fail to up their game by taking marketing and branding standards. He also called on them improve standards with healthier, authentic cuisine and unique offerings – rather than serving than boring “me too” menus.
Industry observers are convinced that the emergence of anonymous dark kitchens – out of town centre industrial kitchens, which prepare and deliver takeaway meals which are ordered on line – are the inevitable future.
But as more people ignore their local restaurants by using mobile phone apps to order from dark kitchens, they are helping accelerate a process which is destroying high street economies, claims Mr Khan.
“We have already lost a vast amount of retail volume to online business – empty properties with To Let boards are everywhere. We need restaurants to drive the football, which is vital for surviving business.”
Faced with staff shortages and rising costs, curry restaurants are already closing at the rate of two a week, said Mr Khan.
The sector employs over 100,000 people and contributes more than £4.2 billion to the UK economy.