The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed nearly every industry, especially the food industry. Amidst social distancing and quarantine regulations, more and more customers turned to online ordering and delivery to get restaurant meals. Prospective restaurant owners quickly realized that they could capitalize on this trend by opening ghost kitchens rather than brick-and-mortar restaurants.
Ghost kitchens, also known as virtual or dark kitchens, are food businesses that rely on online orders as opposed to dine-in customers. During the pandemic, the ghost kitchen format was a no-brainer. However, as the world begins to reopen and restaurants go back to full capacity, many people are wondering: will ghost kitchens continue in a post-pandemic world?
While COVID-19 may have contributed to the popularity of ghost kitchens, statistics show that the virtual kitchen trend is here to stay. According to Restaurant Dive, ghost kitchens could eventually make up over 50%, or $250 billion, of delivery orders.
Virtual kitchens aren't just for restaurant professionals. Thanks to the industry growth, just about anyone can hop onto the trend and open their own kitchen. Let's take a closer look at why dark kitchens are so popular.
Brick-and-mortar restaurants are a huge investment. In addition to finding a space that's large enough to accommodate a dine-in area, prospective owners need to select a location with high foot traffic. They also have to supply a full staff (including servers and busboys) and pay for appliances.
If you want to get into the food business but aren't willing to break the bank, then a ghost kitchen is a great place to start. Because they only require a cooking space and kitchen workers to get started, ghost kitchens save significantly on labor, rent and overhead costs. Many owners cut down costs even further by sharing spaces and appliances with other virtual brands.
In a brick-and-mortar restaurant, there are tons of things that may delay the time it takes for a customer to get their food. These factors include:
There are several parts that need to be set in motion during a traditional dine-in experience, from the host seating customers to the server delivering meals to the table. Because ghost kitchens focus solely on the food, they can fulfill orders at a much faster rate. Not only does this keep customers happy, but it can also lead to higher revenue.
The restaurant industry is constantly evolving — a food trend that's popular one month may be obsolete the next. To succeed in the business, it's important to adapt to these changes. Unfortunately, this isn't always easy for brick-and-mortar restaurants — in addition to tracking customer data, owners have to print a full set of new menus to accommodate any changes.
Ghost kitchens, on the other hand, can easily track data and adjust menus online. Some kitchens have even found success creating multiple brands. For example, Melt Shop — a virtual brand specializing in sandwich melts — launched two new virtual brands managed by the same founder. Ultimately, the ability to quickly customize menus makes it easier to meet consumer needs, keep customers happy and even expand your business.
If there's one thing nobody can deny, it's the popularity of food delivery. Studies show that delivery-only concepts like ghost kitchens could become a $1 trillion business by 2030, even without the social distancing guidelines imposed by the pandemic.
However, not every virtual brand has found success with their delivery orders. Many new owners make the mistake of trying to manage multiple orders at once without using any software — the result is a series of mistakes that negatively impact brand reputation and customer satisfaction rates. Fortunately, ghost kitchens can easily consolidate orders by using restaurant tech like Cuboh.
Ghost kitchens offer quick and affordable restaurant-quality meals that can be enjoyed just about anywhere. They're also cost-efficient investments that may be easily adapted to meet changing trends. Considering the benefits virtual kitchens bring to both owners and consumers, it's safe to say that this trend isn't going anywhere.
While there is definitely enough interest in virtual kitchens to support new ventures, it's up to you to make your kitchen a success. One of the best ways to do this is by investing in an order management platform like Cuboh. In addition to streamlining orders to a single tablet, Cuboh supports the following functions:
Keeping your customers happy is essential to success, and Cuboh is here to help you achieve that. Learn more by booking a demo today!