As we count down the days until the return of proper hospitality (no one who tried to “enjoy” an al fresco meal yesterday will need reminding that it is indoor space we really need), the rise of the dark kitchen continues apace.
Much as I despair at the rise of the likes of Deliveroo and Uber Eats (for the diner, who reduces the restaurant experience to the mere shovelling in of calories; for the chef, whose creativity is reduced to working on a factory production line; and for the waiter, who now finds himself re-deployed as a zero-hour-contract bicycle courier), app-based dining is clearly here to stay.
With it comes a new problem. The Sunday Times reported that while these apps give the impression of limitless choice, lots of dark kitchens are marketing pretty much identical menus, cooked by the same chefs in the same kitchens, under different brand names. Pragmatic business practice or duplicity? Does it matter? You decide.
Personally, I think it does, and highlights how distanced we are becoming from the production of the food we eat. One way you get a feel for the quality of the food you are eating and judge the love and attention given to it is by visiting the physical space of the restaurant. Do the staff look happy? Are the loos clean? These are all clues to the care with which the food is created.
If we lose that connection, all we have to go by is the star rating next to an unfamiliar brand name on our phone screens. And we all know how little we can trust online reviews.
And the PR takeaway from all of this? If home delivery continues to grow, it’s going to be all about the branding. Not of the delivery platform but of the restaurant itself. It’s never been more important to establish in the customer’s eyes that equation between brand and trust.
“What a nice colourful release from Olivia at Standagency about the new Piccolo tomato season. It’s clear, brief, and not overladen with extraneous information. If only all releases followed the same kind of format.”