How Ghost Kitchens are Transforming the US Restaurant Industry

Ghost kitchens have been gaining increasing attention in the United States in recent years, and it's no wonder why. With approximately 1,500 ghost kitchens currently in operation, and more popping up every day, these virtual kitchens are offering restaurant owners a new source of income, increased profits, and more market share. Take Terri Bloomgarden, co-owner of Canter's Deli in the Fairfax neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles. Traffic jams in the kitchen led her to open an external grocery store dedicated to home orders, allowing her to reach a potential new market.

For restaurants with larger kitchens and those currently operating with limited dining capacity, ghost kitchens can be activated at the most convenient and cost-effective times for the operator. Rich Levy co-founded three ghost kitchen concepts in Chicago: Cluckson's, Butterclaw Lobster Co., and Greenspan. He focused on a specific niche - corporate catering - and established a minimum of 10 people for orders. Levy takes care of all the orders himself, with an employee to help out if needed.

He is now studying the possibility of turning at least one brand into a growth vehicle for physical locations, but plans to continue with the concepts of exclusive delivery. If you use your current restaurant, you can reverse the loss of capacity to eat in the restaurant (and, during the winter months, eat outdoors) by offering a ghost kitchen concept. This allows you to recover lost revenues and, at the same time, use your equipment, your staff and many of the same ingredients. The best way to control food quality is with dishes that are transported well, ensuring that hot foods stay hot and cold foods stay cold.

Ghost kitchens rely heavily on third-party delivery services such as ChowNow, Uber Eats, Postmates and GrubHub. This makes it difficult to establish a personal connection with diners. Now they say “I'm hungry”, turn on their favorite delivery app and start browsing it to decide what they want to eat. At first you may have to rely on third-party marketplaces for customer acquisition due to the high fees charged on some platforms, but once you're more established working with ChowNow at a flat rate can keep your business growing.

Cannibalizing an established restaurant business is also a risk. A possible alternative solution? Only operate home delivery as a “sub-brand” independent of your flagship company and offer different food or a reduced version of the local menu. The latter is probably recommended since many delivery orders are placed via mobile devices where simplicity is an advantage. If you're operating as an independent brand be sure to establish a strong brand presence through a website, social media and Google Business to gain the trust of diners. The US Foods Ghost Kitchens program helps operators create a digital presence with industry-leading marketing solutions and expert support. As takeaway food is becoming a reality - especially during and after the pandemic - ghost kitchens can help restaurants prepare for what inevitably looms on the horizon.

Takeout and home orders now account for nearly half of all restaurant sales so get the packaging supplies and take-out services you need to meet demand. The restaurateur is in charge of the food operations while a global entity - the ghost kitchen - is in charge of the operations. The owners of American Ghost Kitchens that are part of Accelerate can thus benefit from the investment that this company makes in infrastructure marketing and labor without having to invest large resources. However being a ghost kitchen doesn't mean operating in secret and homeowners face penalties for doing so. By working with a qualified company like NY Engineers you can be sure that your ghost kitchen design will comply with local building codes and at the same time have an energy efficient design. Ghost kitchens could become a trillion dollar industry by 2030 according to Euromonitor International projections. Wendy's announced plans to open 700 ghost kitchens in the United States Canada and the United Kingdom by 2025 compared to traditional restaurants ghost kitchens save on real estate costs by not having areas to eat. Ghost kitchens come with their own challenges says Tim Hockett chef and partner at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises.

Younger generations order food at home more often which is great news for the ghost kitchen business. Ghost kitchens have been around for a while but they're no longer located on the outskirts of the city. Consequently if you are going to create a dark kitchen or a network of ghost kitchens it is essential that you have a device that allows you to centralize orders and operate with different brands.

Maxine Willia
Maxine Willia

Passionate internet geek. Proud zombie scholar. Extreme coffee trailblazer. Amateur music fan. Award-winning coffee maven. Hipster-friendly music ninja.

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