Inside the ghost kitchen serving food for 10 restaurants

I went inside Growth Kitchen, a London shadow kitchen business that provides space for restaurant brands to prepare food and increase their delivery capacity without the expense of a full-service restaurant.

The exterior of the Growth Kitchen site in Balham, South London.

Grace Dean/Initiate


Source: Initiated

The Ghost Kitchen is located on an industrial estate in a residential part of London – not where you’d expect takeout orders to be placed. Because they don’t serve customers directly, shadow kitchens can be located away from main streets in areas with lower rents and less floor space.

Growth Kitchen ghost kitchen exterior

The industrial area that houses Growth Kitchen’s Balham site.

Grace Dean/Initiate


The exterior of the building is largely indescribable. I arrived at 2:30 p.m., just after the lunch rush, although there were a few bikes parked outside.

Growth Kitchen ghost kitchen exterior

The exterior of the Growth Kitchen site in Balham, London.

Grace Dean/Initiate


Delivery drivers picking up orders enter through the front door, which has a list of all kitchen restaurant brands.

Growth Kitchen ghost kitchen exterior

The exterior of the Growth Kitchen site in Balham, London.

Grace Dean/Initiate


Inside, drivers can sit while waiting for orders, as well as access to restrooms, phone chargers and a water cooler. Growth Kitchen told Insider that driver welfare is important to the company.

Growth kitchen ghost kitchen interior

Delivery drivers sitting at the Growth Kitchen site in Balham, south London.

Grace Dean/Initiate


The building is structured around two main corridors…

Growth kitchen ghost kitchen interior

The development of the Growth Kitchen site in Balham, South London.

Grace Dean/Initiate


…with pickup windows for every brand. Looking inside, you can take a peek at their individual kitchen spaces.

Growth kitchen ghost kitchen interior

A pick-up window for delivery drivers to pick up orders at the Growth Kitchen site in Balham, London.

Grace Dean/Initiate


Kitchen layouts vary. The company’s founders told Insider that the kitchens are tailored to each brand’s needs.

Growth kitchen ghost kitchen interior

A pick-up window for delivery drivers to pick up orders at the Growth Kitchen site in Balham, south London.

Grace Dean/Initiate


While some other shadow facilities have brands that share kitchens and even staff, Growth Kitchen has one for each outlet with staff hired directly from the chains. Shared kitchen space “is not the future,” co-founder Máté Kun told Insider.

Growth kitchen ghost kitchen interior

The fit-out of one of the kitchens at the Growth Kitchen site in Balham, South London.

Grace Dean/Initiate


Brands want to control their reputation and reduce risk by having their own kitchens and staff, said co-founder Tom Gatz. Because the kitchens are brand-specific, having multiple employees working in one facility would ruin flow, he said.

Growth kitchen ghost kitchen interior

A pick-up window for delivery drivers to pick up orders at the Growth Kitchen site in Balham, London.

Grace Dean/Initiate


By operating shadow kitchens, staff can focus on order quality and speed without worrying about customer service, Gatz and Kun said. The company claims that installing a kitchen in one of its centers is much cheaper and faster than a traditional restaurant.

Growth kitchen ghost kitchen interior

A pick-up window for delivery drivers to pick up orders at the Growth Kitchen site in Balham, London.

Grace Dean/Initiate


In total, there are 10 brands in the Growth Kitchen hub I visited, which Gatz and Kun say collectively fill at least 800 orders a day.

Growth kitchen ghost kitchen interior

A pick-up window for delivery drivers to pick up orders at the Growth Kitchen site in Balham, London.

Grace Dean/Initiate


Gatz and Kun said there were criteria brands had to meet before securing space in the kitchen, such as having a five-star food safety rating and a commitment to sustainability, including packaging from of recycled materials.

Growth kitchen ghost kitchen interior

A sign showing a five star food hygiene rating at the Growth Kitchen site in Balham, south London.

Grace Dean/Initiate


The brands are all distinct, serving cuisines ranging from Greek and Thai to Mexican and pizza. Growth Kitchen says that means they don’t directly compete with each other.

Growth kitchen ghost kitchen interior

Various brands are manufactured at the Growth Kitchen site in Balham, London.

Grace Dean/Initiate


Brands can prepare orders for all delivery apps on the site, the top three being Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat, but Kun said Growth Kitchen encourages restaurants to use proprietary delivery channels instead to capture customer data.

Growth Kitchen ghost kitchen exterior

The exterior of the Growth Kitchen site in Balham, London.

Grace Dean/Initiate


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