There's almost no industry that hasn't been somewhat affected by COVID-19. The stringent social distancing restrictions have been especially hard for businesses that rely heavily on interpersonal contact, such as restaurants. The restaurant industry incurred over a billion in losses in 2020, with as much as 50% of restaurants reporting over $50,000 in debt.
As we move forward into 2021, many restaurants have been searching for ways to reduce costs and adapt to the limitations imposed by the pandemic. More and more restaurants are turning to online ordering, signing up for third-party delivery apps to reach a wider audience. Another concept that's garnered attention is ghost kitchens. By eliminating the seating you find in a traditional restaurant, ghost kitchens have become an ideal option for those looking to get into the restaurant business during a pandemic.
How Does a Ghost Kitchen Work?
A ghost kitchen, or a virtual kitchen, is a restaurant that operates from a kitchen space but lacks a storefront or seating area. The ghost kitchen business model depends on online ordering. There are several advantages to opening a ghost kitchen, such as:
- Adjustable menu
- Financial benefits
- Multiple kitchens
Because a ghost kitchen menu is web-based, owners don't have to be concerned with printed materials. This allows for the freedom to change menus and even restaurant hours whenever necessary. It also allows for creativity; ghost kitchen owners have more liberty when it comes to trying out new menu items and experimenting in the kitchen.
Ghost kitchens are also a smaller financial investment than traditional restaurants. There's no need for decorations, utensils, storefront maintenance and non-kitchen staff such as servers and hosts. They can even be more lucrative than typical restaurants because they give owners the freedom to manage multiple kitchens at once. Instead of creating one menu, ghost kitchen owners can create multiple menus and cater to all of them out of the same location.
What is arguably the biggest benefit of ghost kitchens is their relevance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike standard restaurants, ghost kitchens don't have to worry about restricted seating or losing in-house business, as they don't include that in-person feature in the first place.
How Do I Start an Online Restaurant?
As ghost kitchen start-ups achieve success in the restaurant industry, more and more people have begun wondering how to build ghost kitchens themselves.
The first step to building a ghost kitchen is finding a kitchen space to work out of. If it's in your budget, you can purchase a kitchen and even customize it. Some restaurant owners might take advantage of not needing a seating area by expanding their kitchen and investing in unique appliances that let them create more variety in their dishes.
For most people looking to start-up their own ghost kitchen, buying isn't an option. In these cases, renting is your best bet. There are typically two choices when it comes to renting a ghost kitchen space:
A private kitchen is just for your business, while a commissary kitchen is shared amongst different restaurants or food services. While a commissary kitchen is cheaper, it requires shaping your schedule around other businesses' needs.
A significant aspect of any ghost kitchen design is the website. Because there's no restaurant atmosphere for customers to enjoy, your website is their initial indication of what your business is like. If your website design is unprofessional or the menu is difficult to read, people are going to be immediately turned off.
The last, and most important, ghost kitchen tool is third-party delivery apps. The only way ghost kitchens can do business is through online ordering, and the best way to reach those customers is by partnering with a delivery app such as UberEats or GrubHub. However, while this step is necessary for anyone that wants success with their ghost kitchen, it also comes with difficulties.
Delivery App Struggles
When a kitchen partners with a delivery app, it receives a tablet with which to process orders made through that app. Most kitchens team up with multiple apps to maximize their client-base; while this sounds efficient on paper, it can be extremely difficult to handle. Owners have to learn how to use new platforms and manage all of them simultaneously. If this isn't done properly then the kitchen will most likely lose orders, which defeats the purpose of working with these apps in the first place.
Since ghost kitchens don't have any source of income outside of online orders, it's essential that they adapt to the delivery app platform. Fortunately, they don't have to do it alone.
Rather than attempt to manage several incoming delivery orders amongst multiple devices, kitchen owners can streamline their orders to one, easily-manageable device by using Cuboh's platform. Here's how it works:
- We integrate your online ordering apps to Cuboh
- We send you a tablet
- We send orders to your POS in real-time
- We increase your online ordering capacity
Dispatching all of your online orders to a single device greatly facilitates the process of keeping track of multiple orders. Moreover, inputting them directly into your POS system ensures that you don't accidentally miss any orders.
In addition to POS integrations, Cuboh connects to printers. This allows ghost kitchen owners to create their own delivery printing stations. Finally, the platform consolidates your metrics, putting your restaurant analytics in one place.
The level of involvement Cuboh has with your kitchen is up to you. If necessary, Cuboh can help with menu and hour changes, taking care of the business details while you focus on the food. Cuboh is especially useful for ghost kitchens, as they are more reliant on online ordering platforms than standard kitchens and have a smaller staff to help manage the accounts. Streamlining your delivery orders doesn't just make things easier for you; this efficiency reduces the risk of mistakes, benefitting the customers and maintaining a positive relationship between you and your client base.
As COVID-19 continues to shape the restaurant industry, more and more restaurants are relying on online orders to stay afloat. The pandemic has also caused a surge in ghost kitchens, which are entirely dependent on third-party delivery apps for their income. Thus, it's important that these orders are processed in an efficient and timely manner. Manage your ghost kitchen with ease by contacting Cuboh for your delivery streamlining needs.