They are called many things. From ‘dark kitchens’, to ‘cloud kitchens’ or ‘virtual kitchens’. They are restaurants with established kitchens, but operate without actual seating arrangements or dine-in options. They cater to their customers only through online food delivery apps. And with Qatar’s booming online food delivery market, cloud kitchen concepts are quickly expanding here.
Already, it is estimated that between five and 10 percent of the restaurants in Qatar are cloud kitchens, said Ahmad Baddoura, an expert in the field who launched Carriage Qatar in 2017.
Qatar’s thriving online food delivery market facilitates the growth of cloud kitchens in the country, Baddoura said in an interview with The Peninsula recently. With this new approach to restaurant concepts, entrepreneurs can save cost on operations and rental space.
He added: “Qatar’s online food delivery market is now worth between QR1bn and QR1.5bn every year, compared to only about QR20m two years ago. It’s booming because it provides needed services that was never there before. And dark kitchens or cloud kitchens is something that is up and coming. There is also a tendency for certain delivery companies to provide the cloud kitchen. And that is something we are yet to see”.
Talabat Qatar’s Managing Director Francisco De Sousa added that the arrival of new restaurant concepts such as cloud kitchens in the Qatari market are a result of growth in the country’s F&B sector. “Qatar’s food delivery sector is quickly expanding to meet consumer demands. Today, the food delivery market is seeing a rise in cloud kitchen concepts. Restaurants are adopting this more cost-effect operational approach to maximise their reach and streamline their delivery processes, ensuring swift and quality service,” he added.
In its 2019 quarterly report, leading real estate advisor DTZ Qatar said that Qatar’s F&B sector has recently been boosted by the increasing popularity of home-delivery apps such as Carriage and Talabat.
“The consumer behaviour and restaurant behaviour is changing. Service offering is also evolving, and that has affected how we spend and how we perceive food delivery. Online food delivery is impacting Qatar’s F&B market, and it is also affecting where restaurants are picking their next branch locations. Restaurants are now capitalising on the delivery business,” added Baddoura.
According to a study conducted by the Qatar Development Bank (QDB), the total revenue of F&B outlets in Qatar is estimated to increase to QR14.26bn in 2026 from QR6.99bn in 2016, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.4 percent. This growth is largely in line with the projected growth of the population and annual increase in tourist arrivals during this period.
The report also said that casual dining restaurants which comprise the largest proportion of the F&B market in Qatar (with 795 casual dining outlets) or 27 percent of the total F&B outlets here, is estimated to be valued at QR5.44bn in 2026 growing from QR2.67bn in 2016 (38.2 percent share of total F&B revenue).