By scrolling through the restaurants in the Uber Eats catalog, any good connoisseur of Lorient gastronomy places wonders. “But where is Squisito Italian? And Pasta? And Biga & Co? Jack’s? Whoever gets it delivered doesn’t necessarily have to look any further, but when you search, these four restaurants are all located at the same address: 1, rue Maître Pierre-Esvelin in Lorient, the address of the Tonton Aldo restaurant. These are dark kitchens, that is to say ghost restaurants, virtual kitchens. These restaurants do not welcome customers, and only work with delivery or take-out platforms. In Lorient, we do not yet know the dark kitchens of the big cities, these premises only fitted out as a kitchen where only delivery people have access. Not very well seen by local residents and even less by municipalities who fear a break in the commercial dynamic. The Lorient model is more hybrid.
An additional activity
Vincent Kerjouan, boss of Tonton Aldo, hopes to launch his dark kitchens in the coming months. “Our activity is vulnerable to external factors, weather, demonstrations, etc., there are irregularities. We think the dark kitchens are a good addition to our restaurant.” Tonton Aldo is the restaurant of the Mercure hotel which receives seminars and football teams, among others. “We are sometimes overstaffed, we need it because finding extras is difficult, we don’t want to let good candidates pass, and because the activity fluctuates from one week to another, to give them work, we thought of dark kitchens which ensure regular activity”.
It is not turnover which is divided but which is added.
The dark kitchens are sometimes used to test a new kitchen, a concept, without committing to decorating or personnel costs. Vincent Kerjouan wants to stay in line with his establishment opened in 2016. “We don’t get into things that we don’t control”. This gives Italian caterers, risotto, at Squisito, potatoes with cheese, bacon bits and other charcuterie for Jack’s, pizza dough bread topped at Biga & Co.
More visibility on the platforms
Speed Burger moved into dark kitchens two years ago “because Uber Eats took the bread out of our mouths. It was the franchise that decided to create more turnover, ”explains Jérémy Laudrin, manager of the restaurant in Lorient. Backed by this burger brand, the Festi Box and VG Food restaurants. “Vegetarians wouldn’t come to Speed Burger, VG Food, it’s more of a seller. If a customer has a bad image of Speed Burger, the customer does not know that VG Food and Festibox come from here and if he is satisfied, he may recommend Speed Burger”, confides the manager. After two years of activity, Jérémy Laudrin ensures that these two virtual restaurants work, “it is not turnover that is divided but that is added”. Vincent Kerjouan believes in the same destiny with his four virtual restaurants but he thinks above all that he has no choice, catering is entering a new era: “That of easy consumption where you have to be always available, serve quickly”.