As the COVID-19 pandemic raged on, restaurants and venues throughout the United States temporarily closed their doors. Parking lots that had once housed hundreds of vehicles sat empty for weeks. While traditional restaurants struggled to stay open, ghost kitchens thrived with their delivery-only model. In fact, 2020 saw a massive uptick in the number of virtual kitchens in the United States--and as the industry becomes more profitable, the number continues to grow.
One of the downsides of running a ghost kitchen is that you're limited to your local area. Since you only have one location--and it's not a dine-in location--you can only serve customers within your delivery range. Recently, entrepreneurs have helped virtual kitchens broaden their reach by renting out parking lots. With a parking lot space, virtual kitchens can essentially open a second location, reaching thousands of new customers in the first place.
What Makes Parking Lots Ideal for Ghost Kitchens?
Reduced traffic during the pandemic has caused many parking lots to remain empty. Instead of letting the parking lots go to waste, business owners have rented out these lots to ghost kitchens. Restaurant owners set up mobile kitchens on the premises, allowing them to cook all day and reach more customers in the area. Some virtual kitchens take this opportunity to add a second or third location, while others use this space to launch their kitchen in a centralized area.
Parking lots offer quiet areas, stable surfaces and plenty of space for mobile kitchens to spread out. The pavement provides a flat surface for restaurant owners to walk around, drive their vehicles and haul equipment through the area. Since they're in the city, it only takes minutes for ghost kitchen operators to run to the store for supplies. They're also much closer to customers who might be interested in their cuisine.
What Are Mobile Kitchens?
Mobile kitchens are a new aspect of the virtual kitchen trend. Like food trucks, mobile kitchens have everything that the cooks need for food preparation inside the vehicle. However, mobile kitchens don't serve food to customers directly. Instead, delivery drivers take the food and deliver it to customers in the region. Ghost kitchens typically partner with apps like DoorDash and GrubHub to make ordering their food quick and easy.
Since they're not food trucks or permanent restaurants, mobile kitchens can have trouble finding places to park. Renting a parking lot gives them the perfect space to operate legally. Some ghost kitchen operators rent multiple spaces so they can have mobile kitchens throughout the city. Others drive their mobile kitchens to different areas so they can serve new groups of customers.
Are There Any Downsides to Renting Parking Spaces?
Currently, renting out parking spaces has helped ghost kitchen startups attract customers and run profitable businesses. However, as businesses start to reopen, regular commuters will need to use parking spaces again. Some worry that mobile kitchens will take up all the parking spaces in the region, causing conflict between drivers and virtual kitchen operators. If that happens, the city might crack down on mobile kitchens and force some people to close down their operations.
What's the Projected Growth for Virtual Kitchens?
Restaurant innovations like parking lot rental and SaaS applications have made ghost kitchens increasingly viable. In fact, experts have noted that food delivery rates have skyrocketed in recent years. The pandemic might eventually subside, but ghost kitchens offer convenience that traditional restaurants don't match. Virtual kitchens are becoming a permanent fixture in U.S. cities--and if parking lots become an issue, they'll find another place to set up shop.
Invest in Restaurant SaaS Technology
To maximize your profits, you might have partnered with multiple delivery apps like DoorDash, GrubHub and Uber Eats. You'll reach a wider customer base, but you'll also have to check multiple apps--and potentially miss an order or two in the process. Cuboh prevents mistakes by presenting every order in a single, streamlined dashboard. You'll check your orders, get the food ready and hand it over to the driver, then start preparing your next order.
When you invest in Cuboh, you'll also get reports, sales analytics and other information that you need to perfect your business strategy. Contact us today to set up your free demo.