Ghost Kitchens: The Restaurant Industry’s Latest Innovation

Dine-in restaurants suffered through a turbulent year in 2020. The endless amounts of setbacks even closed down restaurants with long tenures in their areas. The effect was felt throughout the entire industry, but one innovation made the suffering a bit more manageable: restaurant-to-consumer delivery.

In the spirt of offering a less than traditional restaurant experience to their customers, a number of spaces that restaurants previously occupied underwent some changes as well. Rather than continuing to operate out of their restaurant spaces that were equipped with the necessities (tables, chairs, menus, utensils, waitstaff, etc.) some restaurants sought a new space to prepare food for their customers. Ghost kitchens, the coined term for these spaces, are much more compact locations (300 to 800 square feet) that are meant to solely prepare food orders and hand them off to third party delivery services or a restaurant’s own delivery teams.

It may seem a bit unorthodox, but research has indicated that the global ghost kitchen market will exceed $1 trillion by 2030. But just how important are ghost kitchens to the restaurant industry? Some speculation has compared ghost kitchens’ impact on the restaurant industry to Amazon’s impact on the bookstore industry in the past. However, rather than siphoning all of the business from sit down restaurants, ghost kitchens are meant to provide additional opportunities for all restaurants.

For those within the industry not aware of ghost kitchens, the resource featured alongside this post is excellent introductory material. If you are new to the industry, beginning your journey with a ghost kitchen might be your best bet. But how does one go about establishing a ghost kitchen? Typically, you begin by renting a space in your area that is small enough to support your cooking staff, but not big enough to wait on your guests. In instances where these spaces aren’t available, you’re more than able to operate out of an existing restaurant space, as long as you’re able to separate the food from the delivery operations.

Some well-established restaurants within the industry may think that ghost kitchens are just a fad and couldn’t benefit them, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Not limiting your customers to dine-in extends your restaurants’ reach in connection with social media presence and other digital marketing efforts. In addition to this, less staff to manage mean the managerial process is much more simplified. Operating costs are reduced significantly and new menu items or other innovative strategies can be employed at a much more accelerated rate.

It’s hard to tell just how impactful food delivery post-COVID will be, however throughout this past year customers have experienced levels of convenience once thought impossible. Going back on that would be a challenge. As the preference for food delivery continues to grow, so too could the impact ghost kitchens have on restaurants post-COVID. For more information on how ghost kitchens are impacting the restaurant industry, be sure to review the infographic coupled with this post. Courtesy of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Franchise.


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