Having been forced to stop operating a delivery service from its two Boxpark locations in Croydon and Shoreditch back in March, founders Deacon Rose, Troy Sawyer and Tristan Clough have begun looking to temporarily expand Coqfighter’s delivery reach across the capital by utilising commercial kitchen spaces left empty by the Coronavirus shutdown.
Speaking to BigHospitality, Rose says the team is currently looking at different catchment areas they think will work well for the business, and then trying to identify potential kitchens that could be available for use.
So far they have secured and begun operating out of a prep kitchen site in Hackney Wick; the St Leonards kitchen in Shoreditch; and a pub kitchen in Finsbury Park.
A fourth location, in south east London, is also lined up.
“I don't know when we will sleep,” Rose tells BigHospitality.
“After the lockdown happened, we saw two obvious options: either we batten down the hatches and ride it out; or we be proactive and take some risks. We chose the latter, and have now set ourselves the rather misguided ambition of attempting to open a delivery kitchen every week until the end of June.”
As well as its two Boxpark sites, prior to the shutdown Coqfighter also operated a full-service restaurant on Beak Street in Soho. While the business retains the site, Rose says that being in an area with a high restaurant and low residential density, it had never been a strong performer on delivery platforms and so remains closed for now in line with Government orders.
Coqfighter isn’t the only independent operator in London that has turned to empty kitchen spaces as a way to preserve its operation during the Coronavirus crisis, with Drums & Flats, Baba G’s, and Bite Me Burger also launching new dark kitchen sites in recent weeks.
However, the Coqfighter team has gone a step further by also launching an entirely new concept during the lockdown, called Goodburger.
“Our ambition has always been to be a multi-concept restaurant company,” says Rose.
“Coqfighter was the first, but we are always developing ideas for brands and menus and this current situation has allowed us to bring some of those launches forward.”
Having been in development for two years, Goodburger is described as a take on ‘the classic smashed patty burger’, and is currently available to order from Coqfighter’s Shoreditch and Finsbury Park delivery kitchens exclusively on UberEats.
There are also plans in place to launch a permanent bricks and mortar site for the concept as soon as possible.
“Launching Goodburger now as a delivery-only concept makes sense, as it allows us to get as much as we can out of these dark kitchen spaces,” says Rose.
“And don't be surprised to see another concept launch before lockdown ends. We have another one ready to go.”
To read an analysis on how Coqfighter and other operators are using dark kitchen sites to keep things moving during the Coronavirus crisis, check out the latest issue of Restaurant magazine, which is available to read here.