Often maintenance costs are looked at as a burden and viewed as a negative to a restaurant’s bottom line. However, having an efficient maintenance plan can help reduce maintenance costs and actually bring a positive return-on-investment by extending your equipment life and avoiding costly unexpected repairs. Coming up with a maintenance plan isn’t complicated when you have a clear idea of what you should do. Here are three things you should incorporate into your plan to reduce maintenance costs for a dark kitchen:

  • Perform regularly scheduled maintenance

  • Incorporate maintenance checklists

  • Add condition monitoring


Perform Regularly Scheduled Maintenance

For most dark kitchens, they use a reactive maintenance plan as a way to maintain their equipment. This means that for most dark kitchens they are only performing service to their equipment when there is a breakdown that needs addressing. Unfortunately, operating on a reactive basis is costly, not only in terms of labor and repair but because breakdowns can lead to unnecessary shutdowns and slowdowns in delivery time. These consequences can lead to profit loss and damage to your brand from bad reviews.

Kitchen staff checking fridgeTo combat the increasing cost of reactive maintenance, it is important to perform regularly scheduled maintenance or preventive maintenance. While preventive maintenance may have a larger initial cost, it saves money in the long term. Savings happen in the form of reduced downtimes, increases in the lifespan of the equipment, and decreases in high-cost repairs. 

For example, even were you to hire a maintenance technician to perform the planned maintenance of your refrigerators it would still cost less than an emergency repair as emergency service tends to be double the cost of scheduled service. Furthermore, with increased asset life, you improve the value of your kitchen to possible tenants for owners of rental-based dark kitchens.


  • Increases lifespan of equipment

  • Increases asset value

  • Reduces unexpected breakdowns


Incorporate Maintenance Checklists

Woman in kitchen with checklist

Adding a maintenance checklist to your ghost kitchen will help to streamline the maintenance processes of your kitchen. When attempting to reduce maintenance costs it is important to ensure that no cost-reducing preventive maintenance tasks fall through the cracks. Maintenance checklists ensure consistency and accountability and reduce errors for your staff.

For example, it is recommended that you perform maintenance tasks on a refrigerator at regular intervals. In this case, a maintenance checklist can include the following:

  • Clean - Clean all coils, drain pans, and tubes.

  • Inspect - Check gaskets, air filters, and seals

  • Monitor - Temperature,  thermostat operations, and cycle.

A useful checklist will outline all the important steps required to maintain your equipment in a restaurant, with the goal of standardizing the maintenance process. It ensures maintenance tasks are done thoroughly and accurately, irrespective of who completes the task. When creating a checklist, make sure to keep it as simple as possible and avoid complex steps as it can cause confusion. Use visuals like photographs or diagrams where applicable. 


  • Streamlines maintenance processes

  • Allows for increased oversight

  • Reduces errors

  • Ensures consistency


Add Condition Monitoring

Mostly used in refrigerators, condition monitoring allows you to detect changes in temperature, moisture, and humidity. These fluctuations can be caused by an employee forgetting to shut the door or an equipment breakdown. The usage of these sensors can reduce labor costs and allows for faster responses to incidents.

Kitchen neon signFor example, the walk-in refrigeration sensor notifies the management of a minor change in temperature, it could be that the refrigerator needs maintenance like cleaning of the condenser coils. This information can allow you to only schedule this task when it is needed rather than weekly, saving money on labor.

Furthermore, because of the increase in data, you will know exactly when a particular piece of equipment is beginning to show signs of failure, which will allow you to schedule necessary maintenance outside of emergency settings saving money on service costs that can drastically increase depending upon the need. The alerts also allow for management to know sooner when a catastrophic failure is occurring making it easier to save things from spoilage in the event of a refrigeration problem. 


  • Real-time alerts

  • Improves response time to equipment malfunction

  • Reduces maintenance labor costs

  • Prevents food spoilage

  • Reduces chances of health code violations

By running a dark kitchen you give your business a streamlined and efficient mode of operation. When you find ways to keep maintenance as a priority you allow yourself to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your business. This will reduce costs, improve productivity, and increase brand reputation. By doing this you create a virtual kitchen that is not only optimized for the customer but for longevity.

January 13, 2020 by UpKeep

UpKeep is a maintenance software used by restaurants that helps streamline their maintenance processes.