Amid the rise in demand for food delivery, you may have also noticed the explosion of ghost kitchens. And no, it has nothing to do with ghouls or Halloween. Ghost kitchens (sometimes known as virtual or dark kitchens) are a delivery-only and cost-efficient restaurant model that prepares and sells food. Since most restaurants already have the kitchen space and staff, the start-up costs for ghost kitchens are typically extremely low.
Ghost kitchens are making huge waves within the restaurant industry as restaurant owners search for innovative ways to supplement their profits. Many traditional restaurants have started selling food from virtual brands in addition to their own. In this article, we’ll explain why ghost kitchens are booming and how you can launch yours.
Why Are Ghost Kitchens So Popular?
A huge reason that ghost kitchens are doing so well is due to the increased popularity of food delivery. Many Americans are favoring eating in over dining out. In the past six years, online ordering and delivery have grown 300% faster.
Another reason ghost kitchens are gaining traction is due to the new advancements in technology. Before smartphones, there were only a few foods available for delivery, and most times, you had to call in. This system had many flaws which often led to customers receiving incorrect orders or never receiving the food. Advances in technology have allowed customers to customize their orders, order any cuisine imaginable, and even track their delivery until it’s right at their door.
This rise in technology also stresses the importance of a restaurant establishing a strong online presence. Social media marketing and branding have become necessities in reaching customers. Through social media, ghost kitchens can reach out, engage, and attract customers without a store-front.
What Are The Benefits?
The benefits of opening a ghost kitchen are endless. Ghost kitchens are cheaper than traditional restaurant models to start, have better profit margins, and allow for greater focus on food quality.
Easier to Start-Up
It’s no secret how difficult it is to open up a restaurant. From concept development to the costs of furnishing and cutting through the legal red tape, opening a traditional restaurant can be extremely expensive, time-consuming, and daunting.
On the other hand, ghost kitchens require less work before opening and make profits more quickly. The only initial expenses are the kitchen space, the staff, and the ingredients.
Dominate The Market
Since ghost kitchens are so cost-efficient and easy to start, it allows for more flexibility and experimentation for restaurant brands. They’re able to serve more than one type of cuisine at a time. For example, one kitchen can supply the food for a pizza chain, a burger spot, and a dumpling place, all at the same time. This provides the customer with more options and increases the chance that they’ll order from one of your businesses.
Ghost kitchen owners can effortlessly shift their menu to meet trends. If there is a rising demand for chicken sandwiches, the ghost kitchen can focus on meeting that demand instead of their less popular options.
Wider Customer Base
Ghost kitchens can reach a wider audience than a traditional dine-in restaurant. The flexibility and delivery-only aspect of a ghost kitchen allows it to serve people as far out as delivery drivers are willing to travel.
Also, customers are more likely to try something new when they’re getting it delivered to their door because of the convenience.
Better Profit Margins
The bottom line is that ghost kitchens have better profit margins and are less risky to open and run. This not only leaves more room for experimentation and creativity in the kitchen but more flexibility too. When operating ghost kitchens out of an existing restaurant kitchen, you have the flexibility of making extra money during slower dining periods.
Ghost kitchens provide a safe way for customers to enjoy high-quality food from the comfort and safety of their own homes. When Covid-19 hit, restaurants were forced to either shut their doors or offer delivery-only. According to the National Restaurant Association, 1 in 6 restaurants in the US have either closed long-term or permanently. Even once lockdown restrictions on restaurants were lifted, many people did not feel safe dining out again. Even with restaurants beginning to open again, 43% of people say they still don’t feel comfortable eating indoors.
How Do I Start A Ghost Kitchen?
Now that you understand all the benefits of running a ghost kitchen, you’re probably excited to get started. But there are a few steps you must take to ensure your virtual restaurant opening is as successful as possible.
Do Your Research
The most important step before investing in any business venture is to do your research. The research you do will ultimately help guide you when choosing a concept and location for your virtual restaurant. Look into which restaurants are popular on delivery apps near you. What types of food are they serving? What can’t people seem to get enough of?
Secondly, take note of your city’s demographics. Is it mostly populated by young and working professionals, families, or retirees? All of this will affect who your target market is and what type of foods they’re looking for.
If you don’t want to do the research, you can partner with a company like Nextbite that simplifies the process for you by offering researched, pre-developed restaurant concepts that can be implemented in a flash. This takes the pressure off you as the work is already done for you.
Secure The Essentials
Before you get your virtual restaurant up and running, there are a few tangible things you’ll need to secure. The first is, of course, the kitchen space. You’re going to want to look for industrial kitchen space with plenty of room for prep, cooking, and packaging your food items. The needed size of the kitchen will depend on how many employees you have and how many virtual restaurants you plan to run out of that space.
The next thing you’ll need is your staff. They’re the people who will be cooking the food, and they’re the heart of any ghost kitchen.
Finally, you’ll need the technology to be able to take online orders. If you’re planning on partnering with multiple delivery apps, invest in a system that compiles all the information and streamlines it into one place. Your staff will thank you.
Marketing is the lifeblood of virtual restaurants and ghost kitchens. Since customers can’t walk by your storefront, your online presence is the only way they’ll hear about you. Invest time into developing an online presence and making connections within your community. This will help attract loyal customers who patronize your business again and again.
Ghost kitchens are the future of the restaurant industry. They’re quick to open, cost-effective to run and provide restaurants with a safety net during uncertain times. Food delivery has changed the way people eat, and the demand for it is higher than ever. Opening more ghost kitchens around the country help to ensure that restaurant owners will be able to meet this demand and keep serving the communities they love.
To learn more about Nextbite, visit us online here.