Ghost kitchens, sometimes referred to as virtual kitchens or cloud kitchens, have always been around, but have received a special amount of attention in recent years The basic premise behind a ghost kitchen is renting or buying space at a community kitchen or private location, which is then utilized to create food that is listed on your menu.
The rise of food delivery services over the past few years has caused an upward trend in the virtual restaurant industry, especially with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. More and more diners rely on online ordering to get their restaurant meals due to seating restrictions, rendering the traditional restaurant dining format useless. Now that ghost kitchens are more popular than ever, you may be wondering if it's time to build a cloud kitchen of your own.
How Do I Start An On Online Restaurant?
Many people have had a great idea for a type of food product or service that they would like to offer, but most people can't afford to just start their own restaurant. The current ghost kitchen trend has allowed for many people to explore their creative food side without having to commit to a lease and the overhead of owning their own restaurant.
When moving forward with your ambitions, it is important to do your research and understand the associated costs and set-up involved to get a ghost kitchen up and running. Although ghost kitchens have been around for a while, COVID-19 and the restrictions this pandemic has brought about have made ghost kitchens a staple of society.
The low-cost startup and overhead involved in a ghost kitchen, as opposed to in a full-service brick and mortar restaurant, has even enticed big-name fast-food restaurants like McDonald's and Burger King to turn to ghost kitchens instead of opening up new locations of the traditional variety.
While starting an online eatery involves fewer costs than a standard restaurant, that doesn't make it an easy process. However, knowing the steps involved can help you decide whether or not it's worth the effort. Here are some of the things you'll have to do and the roadblocks you may face if you are interested in opening a ghost kitchen
Plan Out Your Menu
Just like any endeavor, getting started with an online restaurant requires devising a plan and carrying it out step-by-step. A well thought-out menu, which includes both the food served and the pricing, can make or break a restaurant.
Be sure you understand the associated costs with the food you serve, which involves the cost of ingredients and labor. Knowing how much time it takes to prepare the food is a major factor when creating a menu. One perk of ghost kitchens is that they do not call for the same rigidity as standard restaurants; the lack of printed materials gives owners and chefs the flexibility to change their menus at will or based on customer desires. Some ghost kitchen owners have even embraced a multiple kitchen concept, in which they cater to several menus from one location.
Plan Your Budget
It's easy to assume that a great product will speak for itself, but remember that the customers must first try your product to love it. The initial frenzy of orders and activity that are often associated with start-up restaurants can lure new entrepreneurs into a false sense of success. People are always interested in trying out something new, but the trick is turning them into repeat customers before your savings run out.
Even though it may be cheaper to operate a ghost kitchen, underestimating the necessary budget involved can force a start-up to shut down before it really begins to experience success. A major part of the budget is the daily costs associated with food cost and labor, so beu plan your menu efficiently.
Maintain Your Online Presence
One of the bigger mistakes that you can make as a new ghost kitchen owner or operator is not maintaining a solid online presence. This includes being active on social media with platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Without the foot traffic associated with a traditional restaurant, owners are forced to rely almost exclusively on digital marketing to generate business.
Ghost Kitchen Tools
Remember to consider all of the necessary equipment involved when running a ghost kitchen. This includes items such as a POS system, any ovens or fryers that are not already provided with the kitchen, licenses and your staff. Getting fined, or worse, for not having proper licenses in place can be a real headache, so be sure you have all the tools required to get started.
Food Delivery Strategy
Another potential obstacle when it comes to creating your ghost kitchen is the distribution of your product. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:
- Do you rely solely on third-party delivery services (Uber Eats, Grubhub, etc.)?
- Do you hire your own staff for deliveries?
- Do you choose a combination of the above?
Third-party delivery services can be a tremendous help due to their established online presence; they also mitigate the need for directly hiring employees. However, relying solely on them can create unwanted dependency issues if problems ever arise, not to mention their additional costs might deter consumers. The best option for many is using both when they're able to.
Another complication with third-party delivery services is management. When working with a specific application, you receive a tablet that you must use to process your orders. Most ghost kitchens work with multiple apps, meaning there are several tablets to manage. This can be difficult to do, especially for those new to the restaurant industry. Fortunately, there's a solution.
Instead of trying to manage multiple online orders across several devices, ghost kitchen owners can streamline their orders to one device thanks to Cuboh. Cuboh offers several features, such as:
- Streamlining orders to one tablet (provided by Cuboh)
- Sending orders to your POS in real-time
- Sending orders to your printer
- Consolidating your metrics and managing your account
- Increasing your online ordering capacity
Sending your online orders to a single device makes the process of managing your orders much easier. Efficiency is key with a ghost kitchent; not properly maintaining these orders could ruin your reputation.
The task of creating a ghost kitchen can seem daunting at times, but if do your best to stick with your plan you can thrive. As the old adage goes "Rome wasn't built in a day," and neither will your success. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it; platforms like Cuboh are designed to help you succeed.