Today’s a good day, y’all. And while we say that a lot here (every day is a good day with the right attitude), today’s a bit different. This time, we get to announce something quite exciting for our community - the Cuboh Virtual Brand Marketplace. While that may seem like a bit of mumbo-jumbo, that’s what this article is about - clarification, education, and sharing this nifty little project we’ve been building.
In short, the Cuboh Virtual Brand Marketplace is a one-stop shop for people who want to open or market a virtual brand. The more full version of that explanation, though, is a bit of a longer story. A whole article, one might say…
The Cuboh Virtual Brand Marketplace: The 5 Ws
For those who haven’t heard this term before, the five Ws are considered a fundamental part of writing. They stand for who, what, why, when, where, and how. Believe it or not, that’s how we’re breaking down this little explanation. And before you start, yes - I know that there are technically six things to talk about, and one of them isn’t a “w word.” Those are the rules, and I’m sticking to them; plus, writers aren’t exactly known for mathematical skills…
Anyway, we’ll work our way through the list, so let’s dive right in without further ado!
This is the most important part of the whole thing! So what exactly is the Cuboh Virtual Brand Marketplace? It’s a single place on the internet for restauranteurs to expand their reach and find new markets, of course!
Those reading are likely wondering how exactly that works - don’t worry, we’ll get there in due time. In the meantime, let’s discuss what precisely virtual brands offer compared to their brick-and-mortar competitors. We’ll be citing the Cuboh Ghost Kitchen Glossary if you’re interested in reading more:
- A virtual brand (restaurant) is: “A virtual restaurant… based out of a pre-existing location [that] creates a to-go-only menu. Not to be confused with a ghost kitchen, which rents space to serve to-go meals.”
- A ghost kitchen is: “A commercial cooking facility used for the preparation of food consumed off the premises.”
- A host kitchen is: “A brick-and-mortar location(s) that rent space to one or more virtual kitchen(s).”
- So, the difference between a ghost kitchen and a virtual kitchen is: “Ghost kitchens rent space, while virtual kitchens already have the space.”
The long and short of it is that a virtual brand can appeal to several groups: those who already have space available, those who have talent but no space available, and those who want to try their hands at running a restaurant without the full investment in brick-and-mortar.
With that said, it’s time to talk about the who (no, not the English power pop band) in this situation. So, who should even care about virtual brands?
Restauranteurs who are seeking to create a new virtual brand
Those who read Cuboh’s blog regularly know that we’re big fans of the virtual/ghost kitchen trend. For those who don’t regularly read our blog (shame on you) or who just aren’t familiar with these terms, let me explain.
Let’s say you want to invest in opening a new restaurant, but the process of opening a full brick-and-mortar joint is too intensive for you. This is where a virtual or ghost kitchen comes into play - you’re able to rent space and run a small, to-go-only joint for a fraction of the overhead present in traditional restaurants and cut out the whole front-of-house issue entirely.
Often, there is no interaction with the customer at all; instead, they go through third-party delivery services like GrubHub - you just make and send the order.
Property/restaurant owners with spare space to host a virtual brand
On the other side of the coin, we have people with property to rent but nobody that wants to take it. While the reasons for this are vast, the long and short of it is that ghost, and virtual kitchens are the solution to this issue, especially in large cities. You get to rent out space and make some spare cash, and a new local business gets to spring up simultaneously - it’s really a win-win.
Burgeoning chefs who are seeking to strike out on their own
And finally, we make it to the people who supervise every plate that leaves the pass. If you’re a chef who wants to make a name for yourself but can’t scrape together the cash for a full restaurant, you generally have three options:
- Buy and open a food truck,
- Wait for the perfect spot, staff, and funding,
- Or open a ghost/virtual kitchen.
Traditionally, the first is a great short-term project (though spendy). The second takes time and patience that most people simply don’t have, but the third choice? That’s the Goldilocks option; it’s just right. You can use existing space with minimal overhead costs to build your name. And if the virtual brand kicks off, you’ve got a fast track to opening your dream joint.
So we’ve already discussed the why, at least to a certain extent. The main reasons people are drawn to the concept of virtual kitchens and brands are cost and opportunity.
The cost factor is somewhat self-explanatory - it offers a cheaper way to get a foot into the service industry. Rather than needing to put together all of the paperwork and funding just to get a physical location and staff sorted, you can put all of that money into two things - the menu and the cooks.
This allows creativity in what you make, lower overhead costs (no bartenders, hosts, waiters), and lets the people who make the food focus on creating quality food rather than all of the secondary and tertiary concerns that come with running a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
Add in that host kitchens will often provide equipment up-front and even offer to share ordering/inventory, and you’ve got a fantastic deal on your hands. Equipment, especially specialized culinary gear, is crazy expensive and is one of the most significant barriers to entry for the average person. Virtual brands cut out the equipment costs almost entirely - which is a major lifesaver.
The second reason people consider investing in virtual brands is opportunity. You can invest differently than you would with a traditional restaurant. This is where creativity comes into play - have you always wanted a themed pop-up? Or maybe you’re constantly seeking the freshest, most unique ingredients to spruce up your menu?
With the extra funding comes increased money to play with when it comes to the actual menu. You can take creative risks that brick-and-mortar joints simply have too much invested in to take and do so without having to worry too much about returns on that investment.
The other side of opportunity comes in the form of marketing. Third-party delivery apps are, for all intents and purposes, free marketing. You can put your name in front of people who live nowhere near your joint and get attention; virtual brands need this. Since you’re not in a traditional joint, nontraditional marketing is your bread and butter, and again, with decreased overhead comes more flexibility in pursuing that nontraditional marketing.
This is one of the smallest of the sections for one reason. The when is up to you!
The Cuboh Virtual Brand Marketplace is on the internet, meaning it’s open 24/7/. We won't stop you if you want to peruse potential names to partner with at midnight! And if you decide that it’s time to use up that spare space in your kitchen, you can look at brands seeking space any time you want - yes, even mid-service. (Though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, I won’t stop you; I’m a writer, not a cop.)
In short, opening a virtual brand or ghost kitchen has never been easier. It’s a click away at any point and is always open.
The where is also super simple - the Cuboh Virtual Brand Marketplace is (obviously) on our website!
Simply navigate to the “Virtual Brand” link above, and you can get started perusing!
And finally, we get to the nitty-gritty stuff. What does the Cuboh Virtual Brand Marketplace offer, and how does it work?
Well, just like most search functions across the web, you use filters to find what you want from over 50 virtual brands. You can filter by:
- Type of food (American classic, baked goods, bowls, BBQ, etc.),
- Location (state or country),
- Equipment (so you can get cooking right away, without needing to order gear),
- Or the usual “sort by name, A-Z” (though that’s less fun, of course).
Overall, the best way to peruse the Cuboh Virtual Brand Marketplace is to take stock of what you already have and what you want.
If you’re a sushi chef trying to open a poke bowl joint, you’ll likely want a restaurant that already serves fish. This means you can immediately cut out pizza, BBQ, and several other styles of food and match your inventory to the host kitchen’s.
Or, if you’re a baker, you’ll need to find a spot that already has an industrial Hobart and the proper ovens and proofing gear - after all, that can run into six-figure costs if you don’t already have it. This allows you to cut out places that don’t have that gear and to filter out gluten-sensitive restaurants so there’s no conflict in types of service.
All it takes to get listed is to reach out to us - we’re always looking for cool new concepts to bring aboard, and if you think you’d be a good fit, reach out!
Honestly, this is an exciting little milestone at the end of the day. We’ve been hard at work building this marketplace and have put in an incredible amount of time and effort to ensure it’s the marketplace we’d want to use. We know the value that it offers - and we’re excited to see the value that you can get out of it with a little bit of creativity.