Chef Collective’s Dark kitchens redefining the hospitality sector

Arin Aghazarian, General Manager at Chef Collective

Chef Collective is a global business now on Australian soil which hosts, “dark kitchens,” also known as cloud or ghost kitchens. These kitchens are fully functioning, adaptable, high quality, commercial kitchens without a storefront, which cater to delivery orders. These can then be picked up via delivery drivers from Uber Eats, Deliveroo and DoorDash, and others.

What is the market offering of Chef Collective?

Chef Collective is on a mission to help boost the Australian hospitality space by supporting passionate business owners and entrepreneurs to make a start in the industry using these dark kitchen spaces. It comes as Australia’s attractive food delivery market has skyrocketed in recent years, with the industry expected to grow by $76 billion by the end of the year.

Fuelled by almost two years of consecutive pandemic lockdowns, this represents a 76% increase since 2017, well above the growth of most other categories. Despite persistent growth within the industry, many local bricks and mortar restaurants remain unable to keep pace with the additional kitchen space and logistics management required to meet demand.

50+ local entrepreneurs across Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne have joined this innovator to help make their dreams a reality, by doing so easily and cost effectively compared to traditional restaurant fit outs. The dark kitchen provider has purchased two sites in Brisbane and Melbourne, with a combined 55 kitchens, and is an emerging presence in Sydney.

There are rapid plans to expand to other capital cities by the end of the year, bolstering the hospitality industry within a country considered a cultural melting pot of cuisine.

How is Chef Collective revamping the sector?

Chef Collective General Manager, Arin Aghazarian, says in addition to providing professional kitchen space and access to a broader client audience, CloudKitchens™ also provide low risk, end-to-end operations support and entry platform highly attractive for new businesses.

“We’ve strategically selected sites throughout Australia with high food delivery frequency, to maximise success for our restaurant clients – and we have big plans to take this further this year with several new sites already in discussion. The past two years have been a challenging time for restaurateurs, between lockdowns and staff shortages, the industry has had to adapt to keep up. The introduction of dark kitchens addresses such changing demand.”

“The full spectrum of entrepreneurs from smaller, family-run establishments all the way to high-end restaurants looking for additional support to meet delivery demand, can expand their reach, scale their business, and become fixtures in communities through these dark kitchens. We manage all the operations, from delivery fulfillment to facilities management, so they can focus on what matters most – the food and the customer,” Aghazarian said.

“Of note, Chef Collective offers a unique opportunity for those wanting to get into the hospitality industry to launch their brand virtually, at a fraction of the cost of opening a restaurant and with our expertise and operations support to guide them throughout the process. For the end consumer, they can now expect more from their at-home dining experience by bringing new and exciting flavours right to their doorstep,” Aghazarian said.

How instrumental was Chef Collective during COVID?

Eateries like Mesy Burger, Thai Ginger Express and Miss Kay’s are all using Chef Collective kitchens to support their goals, despite the pandemic and the closing of some storefront operations. Mesy Burger operated out of Chef Collective’s Kensington site for the last year.

Commenting on Chef Collective, Mesy Burger’s Co-Founder and Chief Mesy Officer Peter Ong, said, “Opening our business with a dark kitchen delivery-only model has allowed us to test our product and brand without having to outlay the cost of a physical restaurant.”

“With our family business being forced to close its doors due to the effects of Covid-19, Chef Collective helped us quickly get started on our new business while we were still facing lockdown restrictions. They have the facilities, systems and relationship with delivery drivers all sorted so we could move into the space right away and get cooking,” Peter Ong said.

“Chef Collective are constantly sharing insights and looking for opportunities to grow with both the businesses using the facility and our customer’s to ensure we are keeping up with their needs. It helps us focus on serving fast, fresh food while refining our menu, knowing that they’ve got everything else under control,” Peter Ong further commented.

While the name ‘dark kitchen’ might sound ominous, the reality is anything but. Chef Collective facilities offer high-quality, customisable kitchen options depending on a restaurant’s needs, with seamless pick-up rooms and technology to facilitate contactless delivery fulfillment. To learn more about Chef Collective, visit their website.