We keep hearing the term ghost kitchen. But what is a ghost kitchen? How are ghost kitchens playing out during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what will be the future of them? We explore all of these questions in this article.
So What Are Ghost Kitchens?
A ghost kitchen, also known as a commissary kitchen, is a professional food preparation and cooking facility set up for the development of delivery-only meals. A ghost kitchen contains the kitchen equipment and facilities needed for the preparation of restaurant meals but has no consumer-facing storefront, dining facility, or pick up window. Ghost kitchens are known as only the back of the house portion of operations.
Ghost kitchens are seen as a more cost-effective way to run a restaurant. This is due to lower than usual operational costs. Labor and rent can be a lower expense in a ghost kitchen because there is no front of the house staff, and there is only a kitchen. With access to a variety of delivery services like Uber Eats, Grubhub, Seamless, Caviar, and so on, it is easier to make this business model come to life.
When considering a ghost kitchen, it is crucial to think about whether or not the food you are producing transfers well in delivery. It is also essential to have a great website to attract consumers and make the ordering process seamless. Online reviews and social media are also extremely vital to the success of a business run through a ghost kitchen as they build brand awareness.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many businesses are operating as ghost kitchens since restaurants need to comply with the rules of social distancing. Will many restaurateurs adopt this model after the world stops socially distancing? This is something to consider.
Celebrity Chef David Chang, the owner of Momofuku restaurant group and fast-casual fried chicken chain Fuku, will be expanding Fuku through ghost kitchens. The goal for the fried chicken chain has always been national expansion. Fuku will be partnering with a commissary kitchen called Reef to open locations in Portland, Brooklyn, and Miami.
Ghost kitchens are a way to create a restaurant without the hassle of building brick and mortar locations.
Although ghost kitchens may sound like a simple solution during these tough times, like in any business, there are also challenges. Margins can be razor-thin since delivery companies usually take up 30% of each order. Running these kitchens can come at high costs, and often space is shared with many other restaurant concepts. Competition is also extremely tough on delivery apps, and these brands may not have the same brand recognition as restaurants with storefronts.
Ghost kitchens are an exciting restaurant concept that seems to be picking up interest. We see this as a rising trend in the future and one which can be used to reestablish your business when we emerge from social distancing.