What is the Deal with Ghost Kitchens?

In the restaurant industry, ghost kitchens are becoming increasingly popular. These are physical spaces for operators to create food for consumption outside the facility, and they offer a great way to reduce overhead costs and expand a traditional restaurant. In short, ghost kitchens are designed to fulfill online orders, so their menus are only available to customers who require delivery. Think of it as a co-working space.

There are no tables or walk-in customers. Instead, you rent a space, create a menu and start selling your food to customers online through third-party delivery apps. This partnership with food delivery services is beneficial to ghost kitchens, as it allows them to become efficient in expediting deliveries and placing orders correctly. For foodies who enjoy different types of cuisine but prefer a restaurant to cook, ghost kitchens are a welcome addition.

The high fees charged by major delivery services could be mitigated or included in the price, allowing food delivery companies that work in ghost kitchens to make a living. For Delia Simone, founder and executive chef of the high-end Los Angeles bakery Art Delectables, partnering with a ghost kitchen company has worked on a smaller scale. The restaurant may allow the ghost kitchen to sell and ship desserts to customers, generating more business. For some independent restaurateurs, such as Mota, the ghost kitchen is only a temporary solution to survive until the dining rooms can fully reopen.

With customers adapting to the trend quickly and easily, ghost kitchens are likely here to stay. The dynamics of running a restaurant are changing and ghost kitchens are helping to reach an untapped market audience. The beauty of ghost kitchens is that you are in control of most operational aspects, in addition to delivery. The concept of a ghost kitchen is new to many people, but as these food service operations increase in popularity, greater demand is expected from consumers who have become accustomed to home food delivery, telehealth visits and working from home. One trend that I am seeing is the formation of central ghost kitchens, economato type, with several restaurants or brands that work in the same physical space. Even national chains such as Chili's and Applebee's used ghost kitchens to maintain cash flow and try new menu dishes under different brands in case the ideas failed.

Some small food operators used ghost kitchens to gain a foothold in the market at a time when opening a standard restaurant with a dining room would have been unthinkable. Ghost kitchens are here to stay and will continue to be an important part of the restaurant industry. They offer an efficient way for operators to reduce overhead costs while still providing high-quality meals for customers who prefer delivery over dining out.

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