When was the first ghost kitchen created?

The first food delivery began when European royalty ordered pizza in the late 19th century. Delivering a pizza to the palace was an honor for any restaurateur, and the idea was ingenious. Traditionally, diners had to visit a restaurant to eat something hot, even if they were members of royalty. Eating at a public restaurant entailed certain dangers, and it wasn't always possible to make a quick stop for lunch.

The solution was for trusted local restaurants to package the meals and deliver them to the palace. Of course, this was time consuming and expensive for restaurateurs, so home delivery wasn't something offered to ordinary people. A chef who works on the line takes note and throws a few steaks and fries into the fryer while putting the finishing touches on two other orders: a roasted beetroot and quinoa salad and a dozen mango and habanero wings. Although not restaurants in the traditional sense, Byte to Bite's establishments prepare food for the 30 brands that only offer home delivery that the company owns or authorizes, including Fisher %26 Son's, Angel Wings, Burger Bitch, Morning After Breakfast, No Joke PB%26J and Nacho Lords.

Whether you order fish and chips at Fisher %26 Son's or one of the company's other two fried seafood concepts (Sunset Beach Fish and Chips and The Codfather), the same “two pieces of our famous Pacific cod battered with beer and crispy French fries, served with tartar sauce” offered by each brand, will be cooked in the same kitchen by the same team. In addition, this crew will also be responsible for preparing quinoa salads, mango and habanero wings or any specific order of the brand that appears on the tablet. In Los Angeles, these technology-based transactions are made every day with thousands of orders, hundreds of drivers and dozens of so-called “ghost kitchens” hidden in shopping malls or industrial areas adjacent to the highway. In a remarkably short space of time, L, A.

It has become the national epicenter of this burgeoning business, which has attracted billions in investment in the technology industry and, driven by a pandemic that has paralyzed restaurants, has the potential to radically reshape the way we eat. The ghost kitchen economy, apparently, is here to stay. Even before COVID-19 hit, food delivery apps had begun to reshape the restaurant industry. More and more people were ordering food to eat at home, and a significant part of those sales were facilitated through apps.

As demand for food delivery has skyrocketed, the definition of what constitutes a restaurant has become increasingly flexible. Renting space for a dining room? Waiters? Tables and chairs? Optional. The only requirement is a kitchen. Focused solely on fulfilling online orders, these ghost kitchen restaurants market their food directly to users of the home delivery application, leaving some customers largely unaware that their restaurant doesn't physically exist as a standalone physical facility.

According to Newberg, there is no singular type of ghost kitchen, although there are several configurations that have become increasingly popular. The simplest are those that are based on a real restaurant and use existing kitchens to offer new cuisines or concepts available exclusively in home delivery applications. A traditional restaurant that specializes in French food, for example, could do double duty as a takeaway sandwich brand. Not only consulting firms are looking to expand.

Investors with little or no experience in the restaurant business have invested millions in building shared kitchen spaces, which offer fully equipped and permitted food preparation areas that businesses can rent and staff in exchange for monthly rent and a percentage of sales. One of the first and largest of these companies is City Storage Systems, a Los Angeles-based startup co-founded by serial technology entrepreneur Diego Berdakin. According to business documents, the company's goal is to “reuse struggling real estate assets, such as parking lots or abandoned commercial buildings, and turn them into facilities “suitable for new industries, such as online retail or food delivery to the home. A stone's throw from Koreatown and the city center and easily accessible from highways 10 and 101, the unmarked warehouse proved to be an ideal location for a police station, as it allowed drivers to park and pick up delivery orders quickly and easily before taking them to customers.

Soon, CloudKitchens filled their stalls with a dozen kitchens, and many of them licensed several of CloudKitchens in-house brands for an additional fee. This meant that the warehouse could house up to 100 virtual establishments, such as Skinny Bitch Pizza, Pizzaoki with the Steve Aoki brand and Made in Brooklyn NY Pizza. After investing heavily in branding and digital marketing, Ggiata was able to develop a sizeable fan base for its sandwiches, even though many customers didn't know that the “restaurant” was located inside a CloudKitchens grocery store. However, despite the increase in sales, Welles and the rest of the landlords said that they were irritated by certain aspects of the agreement with CloudKitchens, including the requirements that tenants use the company's proprietary software and that CloudKitchens staff should handle all orders once they left the kitchen.

Since its launch at Pico-Union, CloudKitchens has expanded rapidly and opened ghost kitchen curators in Koreatown, Long Beach, Anaheim and the city center. The company has also opened or acquired dozens of locations in cities across the country: Houston, Atlanta, San Diego, Chicago and Orlando, Florida. Competing facilities have also emerged. There is Kitchen United in Pasadena, located in a former Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and which houses 20 kitchen spaces (occupied by tenants such as El Tepeyac Cafe, Halal Guys and Mama Musubi), and Colony, a West L.A.

Shared kitchen facility founded by two German real estate investors that houses 37 brands (including Trejo's Tacos, Shin-Sen-Gumi and Oi Asian Fusion). Unlike the CloudKitchens facilities, which allow customers to pick up orders but are mainly aimed at delivery drivers, Kitchen United and The Colony have tried to cultivate the atmosphere of a food court, installing outdoor seating, ordering kiosks on the premises or pick-up windows from the self-service. However, during COVID-19, the small size that makes the economy's facilities attractive to developers also made them a burden. During peak order hours, drivers in some places have reported overcrowding problems at the pickup desks (at a CloudKitchens center near USC, drivers are told to wait in their cars after checking in), while the cramped kitchen areas offer a little dangerously small space for workers to socially distance themselves.

Despite the fact that demand for food delivery has increased dramatically since the closure of indoor restaurants (sales grew 174% year-on-year in mid-August, according to a report by credit card analysis firm Cardlytics), companies such as CloudKitchens are facing new competition from empty spaces that once housed traditional restaurants, another consequence of the pandemic. Equipped with a large amount of data provided by users of the application, technology-based delivery companies can adapt to the demand of specific kitchens within geographical areas, even going so far as to target struggling food companies with brand concepts that can be incorporated into their existing menus with minimal effort. However, given the organizational complexity that makes up the ghost kitchen economy, it's fair to wonder how much money reaches individual restaurant owners. In addition to the fees paid to third-party delivery apps (currently capped at 15% in Los Angeles), a ghost kitchen tenant can be charged between 15 and 30% of their sales, in addition to the monthly rent.

What if you operate a food brand owned by someone else? Expect to pay around 15% of sales as a license fee. After subtracting food and labor costs, what's left is an increasingly smaller piece of the pie. Six months after his lease at a grocery store, Jones said he believes the ghost kitchen model is more favorable to companies with established names, at least when it comes to attracting enough customer attention to run a profitable business. Occasionally, you may receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

Garrett Snyder was editor of the food section of the Los Angeles Times. He previously edited the food sections of Los Angeles magazine and L, A. On a weekly basis, he is the co-author of several cookbooks. He graduated from Loyola Marymount University and believes in driving long distances for a good sandwich.

Police station kitchens are essentially WeWork for restaurant kitchens, as Danny Crichton of TechCrunch wrote. These smart kitchens, as they are called on the CloudKitchens website, can include everything a restaurant or chef needs, such as sinks, WiFi and electricity. Ghost kitchen concepts reduce costs by eliminating seating capacity, waiters, support staff, and the need for expensive storefronts. Even national chains such as Chili's and Applebee's used ghost kitchens to maintain cash flow and try new menu dishes with different brands in case the ideas failed.

Ghost kitchens are food preparation operations without waiters, dining rooms or parking; in reality, without any public presence. These small-scale ghost kitchens place a limited number of orders and often handle the delivery themselves, keeping creativity at a high level but keeping costs low. For some independent restaurateurs, such as Mota, the ghost kitchen is only a temporary solution to survive until the dining rooms can fully reopen. Companies that are thriving during the pandemic use a multi-kitchen concept in which each kitchen cooks the food for the menus of several businesses.

For Delia Simone, founder and executive chef of Art Delectables, a high-end Los Angeles bakery, partnering with a ghost kitchen company has worked on a smaller scale. In short, ghost kitchens are physical spaces for operators to create food for consumption outside the facility. Ghost kitchens have evolved out of necessity and are born from the last of the most resistant restaurants in the world. Ghost kitchens can triple or quadruple the profits of a traditional restaurant without the headache of dealing with the public.

Because customers adapt to the trend quickly and easily, ghost kitchens are likely to be here to stay. Some small food operators used ghost kitchens to gain a foothold in the market at a time when opening a standard restaurant with dining room would have been unthinkable. One trend that I am seeing is the formation of central ghost kitchens, type of economy, with several restaurants or brands that work in the same physical space. And in apps like Grubhub and DoorDash, restaurant listings that work with ghost kitchens don't usually look any different from physical establishments.

There is Kitchen United in Pasadena, located in a former Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and which houses 20 kitchen spaces (occupied by tenants such as El Tepeyac Cafe, Halal Guys and Mama Musubi), and Colony, a West L. While the high rates charged by major delivery services could be mitigated or included in the price, food delivery teams working in ghost kitchens could find a way to earn a living. .

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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