[ Ghost kitchen or cloud kitchen ]
Years of living in Dhaka has given me an incredible amount of ups, as well as downs. However, the first time I got out of this country to visit another, there was one thing I found myself missing dearly. Even though other countries have much to offer in this particular area, I still craved the spices and flavours of Dhaka’s food. That might have been about five years ago and since then, Dhaka’s food culture has developed vastly. An increasing number of international cuisines are being introduced to our pallets, from Asian to European to even African. The reason I craved Bengali food while in a foreign land with an even more diverse food culture is because Bengali restaurants would add their own Bengali flavours to their dishes, even if it was a foreign dish. Personally, this is what makes the food here even more delectable.
With the advancements in our food culture, technology has also come very far. This was especially useful as we embarked on the first pandemic of our lives, where we were confined inside the walls of our home. In such times, eating out at restaurants was, and still is, out of the question. Thus, it would seem that the pandemic would have driven restaurants and cafes completely out of business. But, business is still booming, and even more, restaurants are popping up as well. All of this can be accredited to the fairly recent phenomenon of ‘cloud kitchens’, together with improvements of service mobile applications, such as Pathao and FoodPanda.
So, what are ‘cloud kitchens’? Normally, restaurants offer dine-in services, alongside deliveries. However, cloud kitchens are set up solely for their delivery services. They run their business through food delivery websites and applications, where customers can place their orders. Pathao food and FoodPanda were running successful food delivery services since much earlier than the pandemic, but in the past year and a half, there has been an increase in the start-up of more of these services such as Kludio and Munchies.
Previously, having food from outside of your home would mean dressing up, travelling to the restaurant in Dhaka’s infuriating traffic, and finally making it to the restaurant while you wait for the waiter to take your order. For an introvert such as myself, this was a very cumbersome experience. What was even more inconvenient was how awkward it is to eat alone at restaurants, thus my cravings would only be met when friends or family also had similar cravings. So, cloud kitchens and online delivery services were a godsend. Now, whenever I crave something from my favourite restaurant, I only have to press a few buttons, and the food is brought straight to my doorstep.
The progressing cloud kitchen businesses have not only provided a way for us to enjoy food from the comfort of our homes, but I feel that it has helped our community as a whole to a great extent too. Every time I would place an order online, a different delivery person would deliver my food each time. This suggests that these kitchens and services have hired a large number of employees as delivery persons, thus providing jobs for all these people, especially during a pandemic. A few days ago, I even saw on the news that FoodPanda has now hired delivery persons from the transgender community as well, which is an incredible step towards the progression of our society. Not only that, many talented homecooks are able to set up shop in their own kitchen and provide deliveries from there. They do not have to worry about the funds required to rent out a space for a restaurant and hiring waiters and kitchen workers anymore.
Dragon’s Den and The Kebab Junction are two successful cloud kitchens. The proud owner of both these kitchens is Ramin Bhai. He had opened these two kitchens a month after the start of the pandemic. After speaking with him, he mentioned that running a cloud kitchen and running a dine-in restaurant has two completely different business models, as they need to be run differently. These kitchens can be ordered from through their Facebook page. They are also available on Pathao food, and provide amazing dishes that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your home. Ramin Bhai also mentioned that they currently do not have any plans of expanding their kitchen to a dine-in restaurant, as it does not seem like the pandemic will end any time soon.
The progressing cloud kitchen businesses have not only provided a way for us to enjoy food from the comfort of our homes, but I feel that it has helped our community as a whole to a great extent too.
Pandemic or not, cloud kitchens are a very convenient addition to our food experience here in Dhaka, as well as other cities all over Bangladesh. When I visit other houses, or have friends or family over, most of the time, people opt for the option to order in rather than eat outside. Most people have become comfortable in this new way of life, and it just feels like a hassle-free way to meet cravings. The one downside I would point out of cloud kitchens is how fast I drain all my income. If good food is brought right to my hands, without having to move from the comfort of my bed, of course, I would regularly spend money on it. But, it is completely worth it each time. Thus, as more people get vaccinated and rumours of institutions opening back up floating around, I am certain cloud kitchens and food deliveries will remain a successful business, even after the pandemic.
Author: Tasnia Naureen