Yawar Khan has warned that the rise of dark kitchens could kill off restaurants and takeaways, and eventually the entire high street.
Khan, who is the chairman of the Asian Catering Federation (ACF), which represents 30,000 Asian and oriental eateries, has called on curry lovers to support their local takeaways – or risk losing them forever.
Speaking at the launch of the 9th Asian Curry Awards, he called on restaurateurs to up their game, take marketing seriously, build a strong brand identity and improve standards with healthier, authentic cuisine and unique offerings – as opposed to what he called “me too menus”.
Industry observers are convinced that the emergence of anonymous dark kitchens – out of town centre industrial kitchens, which prepare and deliver takeaway meals that are ordered online – are the inevitable future.
However, Khan believes that as more people use mobile phone apps to order from dark kitchens, they are helping accelerate a process which is destroying high street economies.
“We have already lost a vast amount of retail volume to online business – empty properties with To Let boards are everywhere,” he says. “We need restaurants to drive the footfall, which is vital for surviving business.”