Helping Restaurants Choose Dark Kitchens

Dark kitchens – also called virtual or ghost kitchens – are essential to a thriving takeaway food industry. Operating dark kitchens and renting out individual food preparation areas to restaurants, has become a lucrative business for many and the trend is set to continue.

But even with home deliveries being more popular than ever, restaurants are still facing challenges when it comes to setting up a dark kitchen. While dark kitchens offer lower initial start-up costs and overheads compared to a restaurant on the high street, food safety compliance, high rents in urban areas, and for many a dependence on third-party delivery apps are very real challenges. Especially restaurants that are considering using dark kitchens for the first time or those that decide to only sell food prepared in dark kitchens will have to consider their calculations carefully to ensure they can make a profit.

Owners or landlords of dark kitchen spaces can give potential tenants peace of mind by ensuring the framework to adhere to food safety regulations is in place and attract cost-conscious customers by keeping utility costs low.


Reducing Utility Costs & Facilitating Food Safety

One simple step towards reducing utility costs and helping restaurants stay food safety compliant is to install a well-designed heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) control and monitoring solution. A system specifically designed for dark kitchens, utilising programmable logic controller (PLC) software, will help ensure that all HVACR devices are running at optimum efficiency, keeping costs low.

Installing temperature probes in refrigerators will help restaurants stay food safety compliant. How damaging a food safety scandal can be for a brand has been observed in the past. Between 2016 and 2018, Chipotle Mexican Grill has been in the news with various food safety scandals which caused the company millions in profit, a decline in customer trust and, most recently, a federal fine of $25 million in 2020. Offering restaurants help to mitigate potentially costly outcomes can be a reassuring factor during the decision-making process on which rental space to choose.


HVACR Control Solutions for Small Spaces

One aspect that makes dark kitchens unique is their small space. Often fitted into containers and retrofitted warehouses, it can seem impossible to install an HVACR control and monitoring system. Running cables to connect the devices is often not an option due to space restrictions. If it is possible, it is time-consuming and expensive. Wireless systems are a great alternative.

Bluetooth Wireless Mesh Solutions for HVACR Control

Resource Data Management’s (RDM’s) wireless Bluetooth Mesh Network range of HVACR control and monitoring devices is a cost-effective, easy-to-install solution. The devices feature a Bluetooth 5.0 mesh system which is a robust, reliable wireless system, ideal for picking up multiple data points or controlling simple outputs. Utilising a wireless mesh system, devices can send signals from one device to the next, bypassing obstacles, to find reliable and secure paths for the data. The devices within this system can also transmit data to and from an RDM control and monitoring system front-end, completing the HVACR wireless mesh solution.

Signals are sent via the front-end to regulate HVACR devices based on pre-determined set points. RDM offers a control system front-end that has been developed especially for space-restricted settings. Capable of managing up to 32 independent devices, the miniDM is ideally suited to control the HVACR infrastructure of dark kitchens. On top of its device management abilities, incident handling, data analysis and remote access options give users the tools to streamline maintenance and maximise the efficiency of their equipment.

To help facilitate food safety regulation compliance, RDM offers a battery-powered, wireless temperature probe that can be placed in fridges onsite and used to record temperature data during food deliveries. It can store up to seven days of data and upon wireless connection to the system front-end will transmit the data where it will be stored for as long as regulatory compliance demands.

To find out more about our control and monitoring solutions for dark kitchens, contact us or download our Dark Kitchens Solutions brochure.