Dark Kitchen Cartography

Building a UK-wide map of Deliveroo Editions
Comes with code

Sean Greaves


October 30, 2023

Check out the code on GitHub

Dark kitchens are dedicated sites for preparing delivery-only takeaway meals; a model that has been widely adopted across the food service industry throughout the past decade. The sites are often located in well-connected non-residential urban locations where overhead and operating costs are reduced. Many restaurants have successfully embraced this service model, allowing them to untether and optimise their delivery business from in-house. A better understanding of the successes and failures of dark kitchens could provide insights relevant to economic planning, risk management, urban design and food distribution.

There is a lack of detailed data on the growth and current state of dark kitchens across the UK. To the best of our knowledge, a map of the UK’s dark kitchen locations does not exist. Therefore we set out to create a snapshot of Deliveroo’s dark kitchen facilities, known as ‘Editions’.

Disclaimer: our dark kitchen map was created with data gathered in July 2023. Unfortunately due to changes in Deliveroo’s website, it isn’t possible to replicate all of our data collection methods.

Locating Editions

Deliveroo Editions launched in May 2017 as a ‘concept’ to end ‘postcode food envy’. The first kitchens were set-up in Camberwell, Battersea, Dulwich and Canary Wharf with the intention to scale to 30 locations across the UK within the first year. The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine maintains a capture of the webpage announcing the launch.

As of July 2023 it was possible to identify nearby Editions restaurants from the Deliveroo website by appending tags=deliveroo+editions to any delivery search url. For example to find all the Editions partners delivering to Stepney Green, we could try: https://deliveroo.co.uk/restaurants/london/stepney-green?fulfillment_method=DELIVERY&tags=deliveroo+editions:

At the time of publication (October 2023) this filter tag still exists on Deliveroo’s website, however it no longer filters Editions restaurants. An alternative filtering method would need to be implemented to replicate our approach to data collection, perhaps by identifying the restaurants with ‘editions’ included in their href attributes:

If we navigate to an Editions partner webpage (for example, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen), we can tell the restaurant is based at “Whitechapel Editions” because the location name is contained within the restaurant’s url: https://deliveroo.co.uk/menu/London/whitechapel-editions/popeyes-editions-wme/?day=today&geohash=gcpvngtckn3c&time=ASAP. We therefore assume the address for Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is also the address for Whitechapel Editions which happens to be 10 Assembly Passage, a 2-storey B-class office space (with disco ball included) built in 1906, next to the busy A11 road into central London.

To find all the other partners based at Whitechapel Editions (london/whitechapel-editions), we can search for Editions partners (tags=deliveroo+editions) nearby with the following url: https://deliveroo.co.uk/restaurants/london/whitechapel-editions?fulfillment_method=DELIVERY&tags=deliveroo+editions. We infer all restaurants located 0.0 miles away are based out of the Editions facility and can validate this by checking for whitechapel-editions in their urls.

Using this approach, we searched the Internet Archive for all historic data on Deliveroo Editions to see if we could chart their growth from 2017.

Historic Editions Data

Deliveroo’s website has been archived many times by the Wayback Machine. Some of the captured webpages include search results specific to UK locations with Deliveroo Editions filters. Only 46 webpages with Editions search results could be retrieved, each of which was captured between 1 and 5 times over a period of 2 years. Unfortunately this data is likely too sparse to allow for detailed analysis of the growth of Editions in the UK. However the data has some use in providing an incomplete historic list of Editions partners between 2020 and 2022.

By iterating through every capture extracting the restaurant names, urls and timestamps, we can build a dataset of ~260 Editions partners:

name location timestamps timestamp_urls restaurant_url
0 Oowee Vegan brighton-editions ['20201019', '20201021'] ['https://web.archive.org/web/20201019/https:/... https://deliveroo.co.uk/menu/brighton/brighton...
1 Shake Shack brighton-editions ['20201019', '20201021'] ['https://web.archive.org/web/20201019/https:/... https://deliveroo.co.uk/menu/brighton/brighton...
2 Lost Boys Chicken hove ['20201019', '20210618', '20210123', '20201021... ['https://web.archive.org/web/20201019/https:/... https://deliveroo.co.uk/menu/brighton/hove/los...
3 The Athenian brighton-editions ['20201019', '20210618', '20210123', '20201021... ['https://web.archive.org/web/20201019/https:/... https://deliveroo.co.uk/menu/brighton/brighton...
4 The Great British Cheesecake Company brighton-editions ['20201019', '20210618', '20210123', '20210511... ['https://web.archive.org/web/20201019/https:/... https://deliveroo.co.uk/menu/brighton/brighton...

Whilst it may not be possible to map the growth of Deliveroo’s dark kitchen footprint with great detail, we can use more recent data to build a snapshot in time of Deliveroo Editions in the UK.

Present-Day Editions Data

Many of Deliveroo’s well known Editions locations can be found by searching the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for businesses containing “Deliveroo” in their title. Deliveroo requires its restaurants to have an FSA rating of at least 2 to use the platform. Editions are advertised as going above and beyond these minimal requirements, maintaining the highest possible hygiene ratings across all sites. This is a far cry from the poor hygiene practices and lack of regulation associated with the original ‘ghost kitchens’ of New York that advertised through Grubhub and attracted negative media attention in 2015.

We can cross reference 16 of these businesses with Editions locations encountered from searching Deliveroo’s site:

Editions Name FSA Business Address
0 bsy-2-editions Deliveroo sp ltd 145 Ormside Street London SE15 1TF
1 honor-oak-park Deliveroo SP Ltd Units 3-4 Dulwich Business Centre Malham Road ...
2 culvert-place-editions Deliveroo Unit 2 Editions Battersea 15a Parkfield Indust...
3 wandsworth-editions Deliveroo SP Ltd Unit 4 271 Merton Road London SW18 5JS
4 canning-town-editions Deliveroo SP Ltd Unit 3 Crescent Court Business Centre 4C North...
5 maida-vale-editions Deliveroo Hop Ltd Unit 24 Mitre Bridge Industrial Park Mitre Way...
6 caledonian-road-and-barnsbury Deliveroo Deliveroo Unit 4 Roman Way Industrial Estate 1...
7 brent-cross-editions Deliveroo SP Ltd 2 Phoenix Industrial Estate Apsley Way London ...
8 hornsey-station Deliveroo SP Ltd Unit 21 Cranford Way Hornsey London N8 9DG
9 cambridge-editions Deliveroo Unit 3-4 Restwell House Coldhams Road Cambridg...
10 jubilee-park-lee-valley Deliveroo SP Ltd Unit 6 Great Cambridge Industrial Estate Linco...
11 glasgow-editions Deliveroo SP Ltd 1 Scotland Street Glasgow G5 8LS
12 editions-in-leeds Deliveroo Editions Unit 1 Scott Hall Mills Scott Hall Street Mean...
13 nottingham-editions Deliveroo SP Ltd Unit 1 Redwood Court Salisbury Street Nottingh...
14 brighton-and-hove-editions Deliveroo Editions Unit 1 Saxon Works 22 Olive Road Hove BN3 7GY
15 bristol-editions-site Deliveroo SP Ltd Unit 1 Glenfrome House Eastgate Road Eastville...

The above list captures some of Deliveroo’s most well-known and established dark kitchens, although to get a complete picture we turn to Deliveroo’s website to identify all of the restuarants tagged as operating from an Editions site.

Mapping Deliveroo Editions

To get all of the Editions partners in the UK at any one time we can search Deliveroo’s website with a postcode from each of the ~2900 postcode districts. This brute force search strategy is perhaps inefficient given that Deliveroo doesn’t operate within most UK postcodes outside of cities and large towns, although it does likely offer a near-complete picture of Deliveroo’s operations in the UK.

By searching all of the Deliveroo restaurants delivering to postcodes within each of the UK’s ~2900 postcode districts in July 2023, 238 editions partners were identified across 53 addresses and 12 regions:

Wingstop (2021 Deliveroo Restaurant of the Year winner), Dishoom (2021 Deliveroo Best Indian Restaurant winner) and the Athenian appear to be the most popular partners appearing in 6+ Editions across the UK. Editions sites also include partners that don’t offer cooked food like the Californian CBD drinks vendors ‘Trip CBD Store’ and Ben & Jerry’s.

London is the region containing the most dark kitchens with 32 Editions sites compared to the 21 locations spread across all other regions of the UK:

London also offers the greatest choice of Editions partners at 127 compared to the 112 vendors spread across the other Editions sites.

The Editions site with the most partners is in Leeds with 22 partners under one roof at 1 Scott Hall Street: