A Deliveroo restaurant has opened in Hong Kong in a trial which, if successful, could see its own-branded eateries opened globally.
Called Deliveroo Food Market, the outlet will serve as both a kitchen for delivering online orders, and a customer-facing storefront where diners can choose between 15 dining concepts.
The 1500sqft kitchen which cost HK$7.5 million (US$960,000) to build, does not have seating for dine-in.
“We find there is an opportunity to bring our online to offline model to our customers,” Brian Lo, Deliveroo GM said.
With Hong Kong boasting some of the most expensive rental prices of any major international city, the pressure on restaurant operators to develop concepts which perform is very high.
“This model works very well for them,” said Lo.
The debut Deliveroo restaurant will open in Sai Ying Pun as an extension of the brand’s Editions program, where eateries share kitchen space to fulfil Deliveroo delivery orders.
Five restaurant brands will share the Deliveroo restaurant space in Hong Kong, offering a combined 15 concepts: Chinese chain Crystal Jade, Pizza Express, Pololi Group, Beef & Liberty and Red Sauce Hospitality.
Singapore-headquartered Crystal Jade is using the kitchen to launch Lao Er and Brother Kwok, two delivery-only virtual brands targeting younger consumers by offering a modern twist on traditional noodle and fried rice dishes.
“This is a location we can have a closer touch with the residents nearby and understand their dining behaviour,” said Wincy Cheung, Crystal Jade’s assistant marketing & communications director. “It allows us to test our new brands. If we opened a physical store, we’d have to consider a lot of things. This delivery platform allows us to reach more customers at a location that we’re not already in,” she said.
Another participant in the trial is Pizza Express which plans to test a new concept called The Pasta Project.
“Deliveroo’s Food Market allows customer-facing trials of new concepts to launch in market much faster, just as we have done with The Pasta Project,” said Pizza Express MD of international, Liam Collette.
He stressed that restaurants are not going to be eliminated by delivery and the company will continue to expand.
Pololi Group will offer Shaka with American-style sushi rolls and Killer Golden Bird with fried chicken, while Beef & Liberty is debuting the vegetarian and vegan Leaves & Liberty concept, using Impossible Meat.
Lo said virtual restaurant brands are already supporting the business of Deliveroo’s partner restaurants. Kai, which serves up customised poke bowls, and Blazed offering Hawaiian BBQ platters are both virtual brands launched by Pololi Limited at the first Deliveroo Editions site, a so-called ‘dark kitchen’ in Wan Chai cooking only for delivery orders, without a customer interface. Both brands have succeeded as a delivery concept, leading to brick-and-mortar stores.
Sai Ying Pun appeal
Deliveroo chose Sai Ying Pun as home for its first Food Market due to the neighbourhood’s fast-expanding food, drink and cafe scene, which is attracting local and expat foodies alike. Deliveroo is also working with partner restaurants to create new corporate-specific offerings for the growing number of businesses now moving into SYP and surrounding districts such as Kennedy Town and Sheung Wan.
“Residential projects, business development and cultural sites are flourishing in the western districts of Hong Kong Island, and yet many popular restaurant brands have little presence in the area,” said Lo.
“Sai Ying Pun is an exciting location for future growth and we are pleased to offer our partners restaurants more reach into this vibrant district and its surrounding areas. In the coming year, Deliveroo will be looking for more opportunities to expand into Kowloon and the New Territories to bring our Food Market concept to more customers across Hong Kong.”
The Sai Ying Pun location is expected to employ up to 30 on-site staff in its kitchen and customer spaces.