Ghost Kitchens: The Best Way to Reach Your Customers

8 Min Read

In recent months, we’re seeing new trends in how people eat, dine, and get food. This is causing a rapid expansion of options for entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, and small food producers.  If you haven’t heard about ghost kitchens, it may be you’ve been using them — but just didn’t know it. Let’s dive into this brilliant new avenue to reach your customers, without driving up massive expenses. For starters, though, let’s define the terms.

What Is a Ghost Kitchen?

A ghost kitchen is an alternative to a brick-and-mortar or traditional restaurant. It is also a name for commercial kitchens that are built for delivery. Since the space is designed for reaching online customers, it needs less staff to maintain operations.

What Are The Advantages?

It allows food creators to run their entire restaurant, without having the full expenses of staff, real estate, and storefronts. This type of “dark kitchen” enables entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, and local chains to offer their food without the expense of maintaining a public dining area.

What Are The Financial Advantages?

This is an operation built for profitability. A ghost kitchen helps entrepreneurs cut costs on labor and overhead. In addition, it uses a single-point tablet to monitor costs and profits.

Owners can see all the financial data from a single point, instead of sweating over physical invoices and worrying about logistics. An additional benefit is lower food wastage. By reducing food wastage, owners are able to reach more customers, manage expenses, and pass these savings on to consumers.

Understanding The Trends

This type of virtual kitchen is rising in popularity. They are less expensive and more cost-effective than running a traditional restaurant. This new form of kitchen has grown 300% faster than dine-in, since 2014.

In the wake of the global pandemic, diners are opting for delivery over dining in. Building a web presence, using a ghost kitchen, and focusing on delivery are strategies that help restaurateurs ‘future-proof’ their business.

According to industry statistics, as of 2021, every 6 in 10 adults claim that they’re more likely to order delivery than dine-in. People are increasingly relying on third-party delivery. Restaurants are organizing delivery fleets.

Food delivery direct to consumers is the name of the game. Contactless ordering and delivery are here to stay. Savvy entrepreneurs are using these trends to make informed decisions.

Getting Familiar With The Options

Whether you’re a food truck owner, a restaurant owner, or a budding entrepreneur, it helps to familiarize yourself with the options for dark kitchens. Each one has perks and challenges.

Commissary Kitchens

This is a great way to keep your overhead low and avoid the costs of owning a facility. You can open up a new kitchen with minimal expenses or commitment. Most often, you’ll need to schedule a time to use the kitchen, and may need to share the space.

You’ll be using a shared space with basic equipment. If you need more space to prepare orders or store ingredients, you can access these. This kind of flexibility makes a commissary kitchen an attractive way to get up and running.

Commercial Kitchens

In a commercial kitchen, you have your own dedicated space to prepare orders. You don’t need to share the space, schedule time, or negotiate for expansion. You have your own private space to cook and prepare food.

Pop-Up Kitchens

These are temporary kitchens, attached to a traditional restaurant, food truck, or kiosk. These pop-ups are also called incubator kitchens. Instead of building an entirely new facility, these kitchens help provide space for delivery orders. This can be an attractive way to streamline delivery, maximize staff, and minimize order inefficiencies.

Kitchen Pods

This refers to transportable containers such as shipping containers. These kitchens enable restaurateurs to cook anywhere and reach customers directly. Kitchen pods often have poor ventilation, no windows, and a smaller amount of usable space. These drawbacks can make it challenging to effectively prepare large orders.

Evaluating Your Best Options For The Future

As you evaluate your options for reaching customers, consider how to leverage the trends to feature your unique strengths. If you are just starting out, future-proof your business by focusing on delivery, data, and subscription delivery.

You may want to offer special occasion dining, individual tasting menus, or diet-specific options to appeal to your target market. Here are a few of the top considerations:

  • Technology Insights

    With delivery efficiency as your primary aim, work with a ghost kitchen that is fully equipped with proprietary software. Instead of relying on apps or hard-copy invoices, you’ll have all the insights in one place. With better data, you will be able to streamline operations for maximum efficiency.

  • Rapid Delivery

    What do you really want to do? You want to focus on your food creativity and production. You do not want to spend your weekends and nights focused on logistics and delivery. Working with a logistics partner makes it possible to get each order to the right delivery driver. Faster delivery means happier customers.

  • Facility Management

    When you make great food, you need to know that cleaning, maintenance, and security is handled. With all the worries and concerns about food safety, it helps to work with a facility management team. They handle all the basics, so you can focus on what you love doing.

  • Slash Labor Costs

    By starting with a delivery-first approach, you’ll spend a lot less on labor. According to industry statistics, a typical physical location spends about 30% of sales revenue on labor costs. When you run your food business with a fully functional ghost kitchen, you won’t need staff at the front, servers, or receptionists. Many chefs and entrepreneurs find that they can run their restaurant operations with minimal staff, such as 3-5 people.

  • Maximize Profits

    A ghost kitchen enables creative people to get started with much lower capital. Instead of needing $1M to open, you may be able to get things up and running with as little as $30K.

Restaurants are notoriously a low-margin industry. However, with these exciting developments, it’s easier for entrepreneurs to get started, slash labor costs, and deliver top-quality food to customers.

Wrapping It Up

If you’ve been dreaming about expanding your food truck to multiple locations, opening a new restaurant, or creating a hot new food trend — ghost kitchens will help you achieve your culinary dreams.

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