Starting a dark kitchen or delivery restaurant? A handy checklist!

Ordering meals: since the corona crisis we do it even more often. There’s nothing like not having to cook for an evening, or treating yourself to a freshly prepared dish from your favorite restaurant. It will come as no surprise that there is now a great demand for restaurants where you can order meals and have them delivered. So starting a delivery restaurant or dark kitchen in these times is not a bad idea. But what do you need to think about before you can get started with your delivery restaurant or dark kitchen? For both a delivery restaurant and a dark kitchen, you follow the same process to start your business. We will go through the following steps in succession:

  1. Starting your business
  2. Determine menu
  3. Determine location and premises
  4. Finding staff
  5. Important laws and regulations
  6. Finding customers through ordering platforms
  7. Restaurant marketing
  8. Delivery process

1. Starting a business

According to the law, you are an entrepreneur when you independently provide goods or services to customers. If you are going to start a delivery restaurant, this means that you must first arrange a number of things. For example, you have to register your company at the Chamber of Commerce (KvK) and choose a legal form for your business. In addition, your delivery restaurant must be registered with the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA). Once you have registered your business, writing a business plan is an important next step. Your business plan gives structure to your entrepreneurial activities. It gives you more insight into your business goals, finances, your target groups and marketing. Therefore, take the time to put this well on paper.

2. Defining the menu

You probably already have a good idea of what kind of meals you want to sell and deliver, but of course it’s important to put together a menu for your customers and your staff. When you start a restaurant, your menu is an important sign of your business. With a menu you can immediately convey what kind of restaurant and cuisine you are.

When you start designing your menu, you have to take into account a number of things. Probably you already have an idea of what kind of dishes you want to serve. Once you’ve determined this, you can then visualize the purchasing costs. Then you make a calculation of your expected turnover. This makes it easier to set a price for your dishes. In the future, you can compose your menu more strategically if you know which dishes are more popular.

3. Determine location and premises

If you are about to start a delivery restaurant, you will also need to think about the location from which you will run your restaurant. Are you going to start a delivery restaurant? If so, it could be from home initially, for example, or from the garage. Are you going to start a takeout restaurant? Then you will probably not do this from home: your customers will physically come to your business and your restaurant will immediately be your business card. Every municipality has different rules for running a business from home. Announce to the municipality that you are going to open a delivery restaurant and check whether your business fits within the zoning plan. In some cases you will need to apply for an environmental permit. The municipality can help you with this. In the center with high rental costs, but close to your customers… Or just outside the center with low rental costs and a slightly further delivery distance from your customers.

4. Finding staff

Once you have found a building with a suitable kitchen and have created a menu, you can start serving customers. You probably won’t be able to do this alone, so you’ll have to look for staff such as (chef) cooks and delivery people. Preferably you will bind these staff members to your restaurant or dark kitchen for a longer period of time. This ensures a good continuity of your operations. However, it is a big challenge in the hospitality industry. Nevertheless, we have also developed a handy step-by-step plan for this at CashDesk. Read here how you can set this up properly.

5. Verdiep je in de regelgeving

Of course you want to prevent customers from getting sick from the meals you have prepared. There are all sorts of rules about hygiene and safety that you must comply with if you sell meals. The regulations on food safety are known as the HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points). Anyone selling meals must draw up an HACCP plan and must act in accordance with the guidelines in this plan. Therefore, you should familiarize yourself with these regulations before you start preparing and selling meals for your delivery restaurant. To help you on your way, the trade association Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN) has drawn up the Hygiene Code. This is a ready-made HACCP plan that you can use for your company. It contains all the rules for food safety and hygiene.

If you choose to deliver the meals yourself or have them delivered, make sure that you also meet the conditions surrounding delivery. These include the temperature at which the chilled and heated food must be transported. The means of transport and the packaging in which the meals are transported must also meet safety requirements.

6. Finding customers through ordering platforms

When it comes to the sale and delivery of your meals, you have several options. For example, you can let customers order through your own website, or you can choose an existing ordering platform, such as Deliveroo, Uber Eats or Thuisbezorgd.nl. Curious about the differences between these delivery platforms? We’ve already explored them for you in this blog.

Here’s a little preview: you save a lot of costs by having customers order directly through your website! This can save up to 30% of your turnover if you outsource the delivery as well! Have you just started your business and do you not yet have much brand awareness? Then we recommend you to join platforms like Thuisbezorgd.nl. This way you’ll be among the options for people who don’t know what they want to eat and you’ll reach new customers easier.

In both cases you can use our ordering and delivery software to make the ordering process efficient and reliable. If you choose to take care of the orders and deliveries yourself, you save on payments to online delivery platforms and you are more flexible. Choosing a delivery platform has other advantages, such as saving time and the fact that even more people will find your delivery restaurant. Think about this before you start your delivery restaurant. That way, you can focus on one of these options.

7. Restaurant marketing

A big disadvantage of finding customers through ordering platforms such as home delivery is that a large part of your sales is paid to these platforms. If you are going to start a delivery restaurant, you want to keep the costs as low as possible. Therefore, we definitely recommend you to let your customers order through your own channels such as your own website. For example, read how to stimulate more orders through your own channels with 6 concrete tips.

With these orders through your own website, you can quickly save thousands of dollars per year! Use this handy tool to calculate what you can save.

Besides your own website, it is also very important that you offer new customers a perfect customer experience. This forms the basis for loyal customers who will order from you more often. In addition, they will promote your restaurant through word-of-mouth advertising, read more about it in this blog! Having a strong corporate identity is not unimportant either: it helps you work on the recognizability of your brand.

8. Delivery process

When you have found customers who want to enjoy your delicious meals. Then you’ll need to start with a delivery process. How are you going to deliver your products and where? What means of transport will I use and how will I get them? And also important in the case of a delivery restaurant: what packaging are you going to use to ensure that your meals stay warm for a long time? There are many steps to be taken from ordering to delivering the meal. We recommend that you write these down and we can help you with the right software for this.

Would you like to know more about our ordering and delivery software? Feel free to contact us. We will be happy to tell you more about the different possibilities!