What is a Ghost Kitchen?
Ghost kitchens are also referred to as micro-cloud kitchens or virtual kitchens. They refer to restaurants that don’t offer dine-in services. They are built to fulfil online orders, hence their menus are only available to customers that require delivery. Think of it as a co-working space. There are no tables or walk-in customers. You just rent a space, create a menu and start selling your food to online customers through third-party delivery apps.
Previously, ghost kitchens were mainly being used by virtual restaurants, however after the pandemic forced restaurant owners to cut down on operations or shut down, more chain restaurants have started adopting the concept. Some popular restaurants are toying with the idea of branching out into virtual kitchens, whereas others like Chick-fil-a have already embraced it.
Main types of Ghost Kitchens
Currently, there are 3 main types of ghost kitchens:
- Commissary/Shared kitchens: In this model, an entrepreneur rents the premises, installs the needed kitchen accessories, and then rents out to virtual restaurants. This model is fairly affordable because you don’t incur the inflated startup costs, the rent is considerably lower and you’ll have all the equipment you need.
Since these shared kitchens are often owned by resourceful business people or large corporations, they are usually in compliance with state building codes, food service regulations and OSHA laws, which are some of the most complicated aspects of owning a restaurant. The only major downside is that you may have to share the space with other restaurants.
- Incubator/Pop-up kitchens: These types of kitchens are linked to regular restaurants but are only used for online orders and deliveries. With this model, you integrate delivery into your operations but separate the processes so that the dine-in staff isn’t overwhelmed by the online orders.
This option is especially useful for existing restaurants looking for additional revenue streams and want to test the ghost kitchen concept. The best part is that you already have the restaurant space and equipment, so all you have to do is create the effective workflows.
- Kitchen pods: Also referred to as “dark kitchens”, they are quite simply containers fitted with kitchen accessories. A factory-made kitchen unit that comes pre-installed with mechanical, electrical, plumbing and appliances. Orders come in, food is prepared and packaged meals go out to the customer.