Since the beginning of the pandemic, school, meetings and parties have mostly gone virtual. It’s no wonder that the foodservice industry has embraced this concept as well. Ghost kitchens, also known as virtual kitchens, shadow kitchens, commissary kitchens, dark kitchens, or cloud kitchens are a departure from the traditional brick & mortar restaurant concept, having no storefront, dining room, or waitstaff. Operating a ghost kitchen can fully take advantage of curbside and takeout options while staying open and serving guests through this pandemic.
The concept of ghost kitchens, which engages with customers entirely online, was conceived primarily from the success of third party food delivery services. Without a physical storefront where customers could order or pick up their food, delivery service was the only way to make this concept viable. However, some ghost kitchens are now using their own apps to directly receive online orders and their own delivery staff in order to cut down on third-party costs.
There are many good reasons for opening a ghost kitchen now, especially since it’s uncertain when dine-in restaurants will be serving indoor dining again. For one thing, overhead costs are kept at a minimum. In addition, ghost kitchens do not need to be located within high traffic areas where rent is expensive. Rather, they can be hidden away in a discreet and quiet location.
Some existing restaurants have added virtual, or ghost restaurants to their kitchens. What this means is that while the dining room serves guests as usual, the kitchen is doing double duty. In addition to restaurant service, they also have a separate delivery only menu under the same or different brand. This way, restaurants won’t let capacity limitations affect sales.
One disadvantage of opening a ghost kitchen is that your reputation is completely online. An eye catching storefront, comfortable dining room and pleasant staff can go a long way in terms of marketing and attracting people passing by a traditional restaurant. But none of those things exist with a ghost kitchen. Whether or not someone orders from your menu is often determined by your online reviews and ratings. What’s worse, diners sometimes rate restaurants from their experience with the third party delivery’s level of service, which the restaurants have no control over.
Also keep in mind that while ghost kitchens don’t need as much space as a full service restaurant, a fully fitted commercial kitchen is necessary in order to produce quality food. Packaging is important as well because this will take the place of what customers think of your dining room decor. If their food arrives hot, in a nicely designed eco friendly container, chances are, they will order from you again. If you would like to know more about opening a ghost kitchen, call Restaurant Design Concepts. We are here to help!