Although virtual kitchens have been around for quite some time, it is only due to recent, unprecedented customer demand for takeout and delivery services that have put these types of restaurants in the spotlight.
A virtual kitchen, otherwise called a ghost kitchen, has no indoor seating and does not employ waitstaff to serve customers onsite. Instead, these kitchens focus solely on prepping and cooking food for delivery, takeout or drive-through. The idea behind these facilities has proven sound, and many popular restaurants, start-ups and even fast food joints have found success with the model.
One of the many benefits of a virtual kitchen is the ability to provide quality food in a smaller space while producing less waste. This keeps costs down for restaurant owners, allowing them to focus on expanding to new locations.
Another change that has taken place with the move to virtual kitchens, is the need for better restaurant tech to handle the influx of online orders that come from a variety of sources. Orders must be managed carefully to ensure timely processing and customer satisfaction. Luckily, new restaurant SaaS software is available to simplify functions from order management to payment processing.
With the jump in demand for quick delivery, these kitchens have had to find a way to organize their space to optimize production. The kitchen needs to have plenty of cupboard storage and counter space to work. Some restaurants benefit from the fast-food assembly line style of order prep, while others make use of some ingredient staples to create a wide range of dishes.
The concept of virtual kitchens is already a hit, but that doesn't stop restaurants and brands from finding the next hit with customers. One such example is the new way to order food with recommendations through Pepsi. The brand allows customers to order one of their many drinks by an app. After the beverage is selected, food choices will be suggested that go best with the selected drink.
Another household name in fast food dining has decided to take advantage of the ghost kitchen concept to expand their restaurant locations without needing to invest the time and money to open a new restaurant. Five Guys has embarked on its first virtual kitchen in Garland, Texas. They state that is open for takeout only helps them to cut down on the costs of running a restaurant, so they can test out the success of new areas without the risk.
One of the main benefits of virtual kitchens is that customers have access to any type of food they can think of through online ordering. They simply need to go to the restaurant's webpage or access a food delivery app to see a full menu, place and pay for their order, and then either wait for delivery or enjoy curbside pickup.
The growing preference for these services, as opposed to onsite dining, has started a trend for some big names in the restaurant business. Starbucks is closing 300 of its coffee shops throughout Canada. In place of the standard restaurant, they will be switching over to the successful virtual kitchen trend where they will continue to serve customers by drive-through, pickup and delivery.
The current trend in delivery and takeaway dining is likely to continue. While customers enjoy the convenience and increased availability of old favorites and new temptations, restaurant owners have been seeing increased profits as they keep operating costs low.