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DoorDash and Uber Eats quality called into question after rise in ‘dodgy’ ghost kitchens – Yahoo News Australia

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Food delivery apps are well and truly cemented in Australian culture and along with them has come the growth of “ghost kitchens” — a style delivery-only restaurant with no shopfront and isn’t open to customers.

Aussies are reporting a “rise in ghost kitchens” in their areas, with one frustrated Melbourne resident warning others online to “beware” of “low-quality” food and others labelling the concept as “dodgy”.

These fears have been eased by delivery apps, with DoorDash reassuring customers that brands operating on their app are not allowed to be unregulated set-ups in homes without certifications. They are instead required to “maintain appropriate documentation just like any other restaurant concept”.

“[This] includes operating in accordance with local health and safety regulations and DoorDash’s standard operating procedures,” a spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia. Yahoo also reached out to Uber Eats who have, at this stage, chosen not to respond.

Aussies are divided over how they feel about the rise of ghost kitchens. Source: Reddit/DoorDash/UberEats

Aussies are divided over how they feel about the rise of ghost kitchens. Source: Reddit/DoorDash/UberEats

Global ghost kitchen debate heats up in Australia

The ghost kitchen concept has been debated in the US for years but has only recently emerged in Australia.

“Recently, I’ve noticed on both DD and UberEats the rise of low-quality ghost kitchens,” the Melburnian said on Reddit. “These have been around for a while but are becoming more popular especially since Covid. I have ordered from a few of them and generally find their food to be a crock of shite.”

Hundreds joined the conversation sharing their own experiences and suspicions with these modern-day kitchens.

“Woy Woy [NSW Central Coast] has a few of these where when you check the address and it’s the same place. Like 2 or 3 dodgy Burgers / Indian or whatever “restaurants” all served from just a corner shop,” one said. “I’ve seen a few where their banner just has ‘stock photo’ written over them. Looks extremely dodgy and I imagine the food is poor quality too,” another stated.

How to spot a ghost kitchen

Ghost kitchens are a type of “dark kitchen”, meaning people can only place orders online. Dark kitchens can be broken down into two different types:

  • Ghost kitchens: delivery-only restaurant brands that work out of a commercial kitchen space and do not have a brick-and-mortar location open to customers. They operate only the kitchen side of a restaurant, without any of the in-person service elements.

  • Virtual restaurants: these are also delivery-only restaurant brands, but instead they use an existing brick-and-mortar restaurant’s kitchen to create food for another, second brand.

“The restaurant industry continues to foster innovation, as there isn’t a one size fits all path for operators looking to grow their business,” DoorDash said. “Restaurants across the country have adopted virtual brands as a way to reach new customers, provide more selection within their neighbourhoods, and grow their revenue cost-effectively.”

The simplest way to check if you are ordering from a virtual or ghost kitchen is to look up the address on Google Maps to see where it is, and if the address coincides with a physical restaurant of the same name. DoorDash explains that virtual brands are “clearly” marked and labelled on their app to “inform customers where they are ordering from”. They also detail the physical location of the kitchen on the bottom of each store page.

How ghost kitchens can stifle competition

Some people responding to the Reddit post said they had worked in ghost kitchens themselves. “I worked at a ghost kitchen; we had somewhere around 35-40 stores across the East Coast at this time when COVID hit. We’d have either two people or just myself, and I was happy with the product we put out and would eat it myself nearly every day. That being said, some of the operations I saw of other vendors in the same venue were atrocious,” one person revealed.

Others raised the issue of ghost kitchens stifling competition due to one kitchen operating under many names. “The biggest problem is that it is anti-competitive. A ghost kitchen can list 20-30 restaurants in your area, which just drowns out local business listings that only have one listing,” one person said. “If it were enforced to be a 1 kitchen, 1 listing that would be fine,” another pointed out.

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