Esquire Philippines | Cloud kitchens are on the rise in the Philippines. With restaurants still shuttered or operating at only 30 percent capacity, cloud kitchens have offered an innovative solution for the struggling F&B industry. A cost-effective industry innovation, cloud kitchens operate without a brick-and-mortar restaurant, relying on only kitchens, some of which are communal, and food delivery.
Whereas a restaurant operates with a front of house, a cloud kitchen does not. Because everything is back of house. It might lack the dining experience that restaurants offer, but in this time of pandemic with a vaccine still months if not years away, cloud kitchens might be the solution to save an industry.
The cloud kitchen really began in 2018 when Deliveroo was established in the U.K. and Bamboo Asia got its start in San Francisco, U.S.A. Later, former CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, secured $400 million in funding for CloudKitchens, proving that there was potential in this new startup field.
In the Philippines, a number of cloud kitchens have already started popping up. In 2019, pre-pandemic, Grab launched GrabKitchens in Glorietta where users could cross-order products from the one-stop shop. Just this year, Mercato Centrale also launched its own cloud kitchen to support the SMSEs that had to close shop during the pandemic. Also this year, the Philippine startup CloudEats secured $1.4 million in seed funding from angel investors. And mega-corporation Jollibee announced its plans to spend over P7 billion to build cloud kitchens globally, corresponding with the group’s goal to be one of the top five restaurant brands in the world.
The latest player to the field? Kraver’s Canteen, a Metro-Manila-based cloud kitchen that secured investments from (anonymous) business leaders. The online canteen runs three platforms: Kraver’s Canteen, which handles the kitchen’s private labels and crowd favorites like Burger Jack and Kyoto Sushi Bake; Kraver’s Kitchens, which offer flexible kitchen solutions where customers can cross-order from different brands; and Kraver’s Mart, an e-grocery store with everything from deli cuts to Korean food products.
“Kraver’s offers customized kitchen solutions for every type of food business, whether you’re a talented home cook or a large international brand looking to grow,” said Victor Lim, general manager of Kraver’s who’s worked at Coin.ph, Global Fashion Group, and Zalora.
Kraver’s was only launched in early 2020, but it’s already gaining traction with customers and clients. For cloud kitchens, social media is a lifeline and marketing is king. Kraver’s has already garnered over 23,000 Facebook followers and counting. From known brands like Tiger Sugar and Rico’s Lechon to lesser known names like El Nacho Libre and The Rice Republic, Kraver’s is offering SMSEs a chance to earn and grow despite the quarantine restrictions that have been in place for over six months.
Cloud kitchens are an opportunity for businesses to recalibrate their operations to fit the new normal—and survive. A number of food accounts have already set up shop on Instagram, an unofficial giant cloud kitchen for cookies, cakes, and more.
The online shift is a sign the industry is changing, and while brick-and-mortar shops will eventually be allowed to operate at 100 percent capacity, the pandemic has offered new avenues for businesses to grow. Whether it’s for the convenience of customers looking to cross-order from diverse, affordable menus or for food establishments seeking affordable platforms to create and market their products, cloud kitchens are here to stay.
Esquire Philippines | ANRI ICHIMURA