As the food delivery business continues to boom, ghost kitchens make it more convenient to deliver meals by saving time, maximizing space, satisfying guests, and generating profit with the help of mobile apps, online ordering, and third-party deliveries.
Ghost kitchens present numerous opportunities to enter the vast market seamlessly while minimizing operational risks. Both established and startup restaurants can use them, and this post will help demystify ghost kitchens while highlighting many of the benefits. Of course, refrigeration is also a key component, so let's get started...
What Is a Ghost Kitchen?
Also known as virtual, delivery-only, cloud, or dark kitchens, ghost kitchens refer to restaurants operating without a dining space. The main sales come from fulfilling orders virtually via a phone app, then using delivery services such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, and GrubHub to deliver the meals to their customers, or by offering takeout.
Typically, they don't require any physical storefront to prepare meals for delivery and takeout. The fast delivery and seamless interaction between the virtual stores and customers make these kitchens cost-effective to run.
Equally important, the industry has not set a standard terminology for this concept, and most phrases falling under the ghost kitchen moniker may be slightly different. For example, a ghost kitchen may mean a space where various restaurant brands rent out equipment or space to use. In contrast, a virtual restaurant refers to established restaurants with physical locations and stores serving delivery-only menus.
Types of Ghost Kitchens
There are different types of ghost kitchens, depending on the structure. These include:
These are commercial kitchen spaces attached to the dine-in kitchen but are still separate from dine-in operations. They are great for specialty cuisine as these allow culinary professionals to prepare meals legally while offering scheduling and budgetary flexibility for the business involved.
It refers to a commercial kitchen entirely separate from a restaurant's normal operations. Different businesses rent and share the same kitchen to deliver meals to customers. They are strictly for delivery-only purposes. The facilities have all the infrastructure and equipment required to prepare meals but do not deliver food. They only serve as commissaries for the partner restaurants and other food delivery services. Restaurants can still offer a full menu using an actual kitchen to avoid paying extra fees or charges.
A commercial kitchen outfitted in a shipping container or smaller space. "Dark Kitchens" come from this style of ghost kitchen. They help to eliminate the needs of on-site organizations among various third parties. The high deliveries help save resources and money.
Benefits of Ghost Kitchens
Ghost kitchens are appealing for various reasons. They help save on overall operations costs while boosting customer experience with fast deliveries. Other top benefits are:
- Requires minimal starting cash compared to real estate buying or leasing
- Reduces overhead costs
- Only focuses on takeout and delivery
- Shorter launch times
- Less strain on labor
- More flexibility to adapt to changing customer preferences
- Enhanced revenue streams for established people who can spin-off their kitchen
Importance of Refrigeration in a Ghost Kitchen
Ghost kitchens are attracting more hype as operators look for new ways to cater to consumers with low-overhead fees and high demand. Shared spaces result in larger refrigeration loads due to the number of businesses using the same space, and when it comes to space, walk-ins and corresponding refrigeration systems can take up much of the footprint.
Learn more about how the potential of commercial refrigeration can be maximized in ghost kitchen operations by scheduling a free refrigeration review with an expert at RDT.