Cloud kitchens take the risk out of trying new places — and the rewards
Online food delivery is a tricky business and businesses continue to struggle with the logistics of commerce. Perhaps that’s why we’re now seeing the idea of ”cloud kitchens” gain prominence, as a way for Swiggy and Zomato to make things work.
So what is a cloud kitchen? It’s basically a delivery-only kitchen, usually set up by the delivery service itself, that can be started without too much infrastructure or running costs, so a wider variety of foods is available for delivery. After all, with more variety available, people would be more likely to use a delivery service to order food, right?
Swiggy recently launched its first cloud kitchen, called The Bowl Company. A few months ago, Zomato also said it was looking to venture into cloud kitchens, and speaking to Business Insider, Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal described them as “reserved food courts at the delivery”.
The reason Zomato and others are interested in cloud kitchens is quite simple: the logistics of ordering online are a mess. By having more control over the entire stack, online ordering platforms can improve efficiency and reduce costs. It will also make them less reliant on restaurants, which aren’t exactly aggregators’ biggest fans. Businesses in the traditional food delivery industry have struggled, and some newcomers – like TinyOwl – have ended up closing their doors, so it’s no surprise companies are trying to find models that work.
The benefit of bringing multiple restaurants together in these cloud kitchens is pretty obvious – you’re able to offer a wide range of dishes in places where options are more limited, and restaurants won’t have to make a huge investment. initial to board. Now the model is not unique at this point. Companies such as FreshMenu and Faasos have already taken the plunge. And they also happen to be listed as delivery options on Swiggy and Zomato Order.
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The problem is that food is not a commodity business. Butter Chicken you get from one restaurant cannot be exchanged for Butter Chicken you order from another. With the cloud kitchen model, a restaurant’s risks are mitigated and restaurants can open in more locations, so you’re not stuck in one locality with only two decent options – a pain some of between us know too well. But it also means that everything ends up having a similarity.
You could say the same for chain restaurants – every Moti Mahal Butter Chicken should taste the same. The difference is that these chains emerged after the restaurant developed its own identity and kept a certain focus. To see what is offered via the “cloud kitchens”, it seems that companies are trying to give a bit of everything, without any real identity.
Which brings us back to The Bowl Company, which we recently tried in the HSR Layout area of Bengaluru. We had four bowls and thought the packaging was quite nice, the food quite tasty, really very hygienic, with prompt delivery.
The food was also incredibly unforgettable and, with that in mind, certainly expensive. This isn’t a specific review of The Bowl Company either – it applies to almost every cloud kitchen we’ve ordered. The food is good, but it’s boring.
It’s one thing to spend more money when you get something to savor and enjoy; but if you’re eating something that’s just ok… well, you wonder why you didn’t call the local restaurants instead. You’ll get something cheaper, and maybe even nicer.
With the cloud kitchen model, businesses need to cater to a large audience and they need to maintain consistency across a wide area. This means that the partners they can associate with are limited and the food they can offer is limited – anything that might be polarizing is ruled out. And along the way, the food becomes depersonalized, conceived in committee, as exciting as a group discussion.
Turns out the cloud kitchen model is the same as McDonald’s – just not as user-friendly. Foodies are hoping these companies can turn things around and add some truly standout delivery options in most areas, but from now on you better call local joints and ask them what’s best on the menu. .
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