Virtual Kitchen vs. Ghost Kitchen vs. Food Hall

In lieu of the traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, an increasing number of business owners have opted for virtual kitchens, ghost kitchens, or spaces in food halls. These business models all have significant differences, but they have one thing in common: they don't operate out of a traditional dine-in restaurant. Instead, they have a virtual brand that operates exclusively through booths or food delivery. This gives restaurant owners more flexibility and cuts operating costs.

With advancements in restaurant tech, the dark kitchen trend has resulted in over 10,000 kitchens in the United States. Research has shown that the dark kitchen trend could become a $1 trillion industry in the next decade. But before you open your own business, it's important to know the difference between the three "dark kitchen" models. Here's a rundown of the three business options.

What is a Virtual Kitchen?

A virtual kitchen operates out of an existing brick-and-mortar restaurant. A pizza kitchen might be the best pizza restaurant in the area, but they're only going to attract one type of customer: people who love pizza. Virtual kitchens allow restaurant owners to expand their offerings and attract a new set of customers.

For example, a pizza kitchen could operate a virtual kitchen that sells hamburgers. The restaurant owner doesn't have to compromise their brand, add new items to the main menu or make more dining space. Instead, they make a new virtual restaurant that operates exclusively through delivery apps. They might not even mention the fact that the virtual restaurant is tied to their existing restaurant--instead, they market it as a completely new option.

Since they already have kitchen space, the pizza kitchen uses this equipment to prepare the new dishes. They outsource the delivery through apps like DoorDash, GrubHub, and Kitchen United so they don't have to hire new delivery drivers. This allows them to offer new dishes without spending too much money. Now that they have more options, the restaurant could enjoy increased profits.

What is a Ghost Kitchen?

Unlike a virtual kitchen, a ghost kitchen isn't attached to a regular restaurant. Instead, ghost kitchens are completely independent. The restaurant owner creates a menu, but instead of opening a brick-and-mortar location, they make their dishes in a kitchen that's closed to the public. Some ghost kitchens use their own kitchens, while others work in shared facilities with other ghost kitchens.

Ghost kitchens operate exclusively through delivery. Customers browse their options on delivery apps, place their order, then wait for the DoorDash or Postmates delivery driver to arrive. This model might seem unconventional, but it's booming in popularity: studies have shown that ghost kitchens are worth about $40 billion worldwide, making them one of the most valuable business models.

Ghost kitchens can also revitalize outdated business models. One famous example is Pasqually's Pizza: a Chuck E. Cheese ghost kitchen that operates exclusively through delivery apps. Chuck E. Cheese has also released a line of frozen pizzas to keep up with the times.

What is a Food Hall?

A food hall is similar to a food court in that multiple restaurants operate booths in a single space. However, a food court in a mall offers chain restaurants that operate with defrosted meals. Food halls focus on locally-owned restaurants staffed by chefs and other restaurant experts. Instead of renting an entire dine-in space, they have a booth where customers place their orders.

Food halls typically offer a variety of cuisines and dishes. For example, a food hall could have a Korean restaurant that sells bibimbap, bulgogi, and kimchi. Food halls could have a few retail stores, but they mainly focus on artisanal restaurants. Most food halls offer an attractive design unlike the bland design of food courts in the mall.

What Can Cuboh Do for Your Business?

When you operate with a delivery-only model, you'll list your business under multiple food delivery apps. This allows you to reach the most customers, but it also makes online order management a hassle. You'll have to constantly switch back and forth between different apps, which increases the chances of making a mistake. Unfortunately, a single mistake might cause a customer to turn to another restaurant in the future.

Cuboh is a restaurant SaaS that integrates every app into one system. Instead of flipping between multiple apps, you'll check a single dashboard to see your incoming orders. You'll also receive streamlined data and sales reports to see how your business is doing. This makes it easy to evaluate your performance and make changes if necessary.

To learn more, get in touch with us or schedule a free demo. You'll get a demo and sales call where you can ask questions and learn more about Cuboh. To book a call, simply choose the date and time on our calendar that works for you. This demo is 100% commitment-free.

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