A ghost kitchen, also known as a virtual kitchen, is a restaurant that relies solely on digital channels to communicate with customers. Unlike a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant, there is no in-person dining option — rather, food is provided through takeout and delivery. In some cases, multiple ghost kitchens can operate out of the same facility (which is sometimes referred to as a dark kitchen).
The social distancing guidelines employed during the COVID-19 employment have contributed to the rise of ghost kitchens. More and more restaurant owners are turning toward a virtual format to help conserve costs and take advantage of the increased demand for food delivery. Here's a closer look at how the staff system works in traditional restaurants versus ghost kitchens.
A traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant requires a full set of kitchen staff to keep it running. This includes a chef, sous-chef and assortment of cooks to prepare meals, a host to lead people to their tables and a team of waiters, bartenders and busboys to serve people. Many restaurants also use an order management system, such as a POS (point of sales) system, to measure transactions, as well as a restaurant manager to oversee day-to-day operations.
Running a restaurant and managing these different team members can be costly. On average, restaurant owners pay approximately $1,800 to onboard a new employee. Considering that the restaurant industry has a 75% turnover rate, restaurant owners need to reserve a substantial portion of their budget for hiring and retaining staff members.
Because of the lack of a traditional storefront, ghost kitchens have different staff systems than regular, in-person restaurants. Most ghost kitchens consist of a few staff members working together in a kitchen setting to prepare meals and manage orders — there is no need for servers, hosts or other employees you might find in a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Moreover, because there is no dining area, ghost kitchens save money on space and rental fees.
With no in-person customers, ghost kitchens rely heavily on delivery. Some ghost kitchens may employ their own delivery drivers, while others use pre-established delivery sites such as UberEats and GrubHub.
Whether you own a traditional restaurant or a ghost kitchen, it's important to manage your budget and allocate funds accordingly. Among increasing minimum wage rates and labor regulations, it's projected that the restaurant industry will see a negative impact of $250 million. Thus, restaurant owners must keep careful track of their costs to make sure that they can afford these increasing expenses. Some costs commonly found in ghost kitchens include:
Because ghost kitchens do not have a setting to attract customers, they must rely on the appeal of their menus. Some ghost kitchens may even offer multiple menus from the same location to help diversify their clientele. To create meals, ghost kitchens need to have the right appliances. While some restaurant owners may purchase their own spaces and equipment, others may choose to rent spaces or share kitchens with other ghost kitchen owners.
Because they cannot depend on foot traffic, most ghost kitchen owners turn to online platforms to acquire customers. Taking the time and effort to cultivate a social media presence is essential to spreading awareness about your business
Finally, ghost kitchen owners need to determine what delivery systems they want to use to transport food to their customers. Whether you hire your own delivery staff or go with a third-party service, it's important to rely on high-quality restaurant technology that can help you manage your incoming orders and grow your business.
While having a smaller staff can help save costs, it also means that you have fewer team members on-hand to help keep track of customer demands. Fortunately, with the right order management system, you can keep up with requests while maintaining good customer service.
When collaborating with different delivery services, kitchen owners typically receive a tablet to help keep track of orders from that application. The more services you work with, the more tablets you'll have to manage. Of course, this can get confusing, especially for novices in the industry.
Fortunately, Cuboh poses a solution by letting you streamline your orders to a single device in real time. Not only does this increase your efficiency and speed, but it also helps ensure that you don't miss out on orders. The system is easy to use, which is useful when it comes to training staff. Other features offered by Cuboh include:
Nobody said that running a restaurant was easy, but having the right technology by your side can increase your chances of succeeding.