In the restaurant street outside Beijing's Ritan Park, the day starts slowly, but not for Guo Hongtao, manager of a take-out only restaurant. As online lunch orders begin to pour in, his 20-square-meter kitchen is gearing up for the day. The space is rented from Panda Selected, a start-up that offers co-cooking space to take-out kitchens.
Panda Selected also helps its tenants in a variety of ways, including designing logos, writing menus, planning online operations, connecting them with good suppliers, negotiating with food delivery platforms and applying for business licenses.
As some companies share kitchens with take-out only restaurants, some others share meals. Cengfanqu is one of the apps that bring foodies to household dining tables.
On the other side of the app, home chefs, most of them unemployed housewives living in the countryside, are more than happy to start their own business from home. By benefiting the local rural community, the app has also gained support from the local government.
China's food takeout market totaled 113.3 billion yuan in 2016, according to business think tank Analysys. The massive market means opportunities for kitchen and meal sharing companies.
At the same time, industry insiders say, kitchen and meal sharing remain a fledgling segment of the market. They note that innovation and regulation are the key factors that could help make it a stable part of the sharing economy.