Exploring dark kitchens in Brazilian urban centres: a study of delivery-only restaurants with food delivery apps

Hakim, Mariana Piton, Dela Libera, Victor Methner, Zanetta, Luis D'Avoglio, Stedefeldt, Elke, Soon-Sinclair, Jan Mei, Wiśniewska, Małgorzata Zdzisława and da Cunha, Diogo Thimoteo (2023) Exploring dark kitchens in Brazilian urban centres: a study of delivery-only restaurants with food delivery apps. Food Research International, 170 . ISSN 0963-9669

[thumbnail of AAM] PDF (AAM) - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 18 May 2024.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.


Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2023.112969


Dark kitchen is a delivery-only restaurant that operates without direct contact with the consumer, has no premises for local consumption and sells exclusively through online platforms. The main objective of this work is to identify and characterise dark kitchens in three urban centres featured in the most used food delivery app in Brazil. To this end, data collection was conducted in two phases. In the first phase, through data mining, we collected information from restaurants in three cities (Limeira, Campinas, and São Paulo - Brazil) that were provided in the food delivery app. A total of 22,520 establishments were searched from the central point of each of the cities. In the second phase, the first 1,000 restaurants in each city were classified as dark kitchens, standard, or undefined restaurants. A thematic content analysis was conducted to further distinguish the dark kitchen models. Of the restaurants evaluated, 1,749 (65.2%) were classified as standard restaurants, 727 (27.1%) as dark kitchens, and 206 (7.7%) as undefined. In terms of the characteristics of dark kitchens, they were more dispersed and located further away from the central points compared to standard restaurants. Meals in dark kitchens were cheaper than in standard restaurants, and had a lower number of user reviews. Most of the dark kitchens in São Paulo served Brazilian dishes, while in the smaller cities, Limeira and Campinas, it was mainly snacks and desserts. Six different models of dark kitchen were identified: Independent dark kitchen; shell-type (hub); franchise; virtual kitchen in a standard restaurant (different menu); virtual kitchen in a standard restaurant (similar menu but different name); and home-based dark kitchen. The modelling approach and methodology used to classify and identify dark kitchens is considered a contribution to science as it allows a better understanding of this fast growing sector of the food industry. This in turn can help to develop management strategies and policies for the sector. Our study is also of value to regulators to determine their proliferation through urban planning and to promote appropriate guidelines for dark kitchens as they differ from standard restaurants.

Repository Staff Only: item control page