Are ghost kitchens the future?

From both a business and customer position, restaurants will need to adapt and will need to be flexible and agile in the way they face the challenges of the new way of life in light of Covid-19.

‘Ghost kitchen: A ghost kitchen contains the kitchen equipment and facilities needed for the preparation of restaurant meals but has no dining area for walk-in customers. Restaurants that use ghost kitchens may have a different physical location for walk-in customers or maybe a delivery-only ghost restaurant. A contactless customer model that focuses on take-out service only, delivered mainly via delivery apps’.

Is the ghost kitchen trend that started in 2019 going to be the future of the commercial kitchen? A ghost kitchen is low cost and allows you to bring a catering business to market faster than opening a full-service restaurant, they are also a lower risk method to expansion for existing brands who want to expand into new areas.

With the world being hit by a global pandemic and COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions in place, the ghost kitchen trend becomes a necessity for nearly every restaurant around the globe within a matter of months as restaurants had to close their doors to foot traffic and leaving them with a choice: either close (temporarily), or pivot to delivery or take-out model.

A complete nightmare and a massive disruption for all traditional table service restaurants, leaving many questions needing to be answered – Can we change our menu options for delivery? Will a delivery service cover my costs? Will the business be there for us? How do I contact delivery apps? How can I market my new service quickly and effectively?

With innovation and imagination, some restaurants have rapidly evolved their business and menus to make take-out a viable and accessible option. The question is, now these businesses have seen success running a ghost kitchen will they go back to the ‘old norm’ when we are finally able to enjoy a waited-table service again?

What might start to happen as we see more hybrid restaurant models evolve a traditional full-service restaurant may decide to partner with a ghost kitchen to supplement newly devolved take-out/delivery businesses. Others may choose to increase profits by offering their kitchens as ghost kitchens for other brands whilst some may look at ghost kitchens to expand into new territories and now that people have had a taste of this delivery-based ordering in the face of COVID-19 we will no doubt, see more and more independent ghost kitchens pop-up. No matter what choices are made the fundamental of a good restaurant remain whether a ghost kitchen or a traditional restaurant.

It is imperative that every business continues to;

Streamline inventory and manage menus – This will control costs and inventory waste which will ensure growth and a healthy bottom line.

Keep a healthy supply chain – You should monitor and track the supply chain in good times and bad, ensuring you can get the products you need at a fair price. Alternatively, you may need to make supply chain adjustments to account for any number of risks that could arise, from bad weather to what we are experiencing now.

Keep waste to a minimum – Waste will hit your bottom line. By managing your inventory and getting a better grip on your menu, it is noted that individual restaurants can cut up to 2-6% off their food costs.

Remain flexible – Make sure you have a business model that can be easily adapted, we don’t know how the future looks but it is important, for your business to survive, that you have the infrastructure that allows maximum adaptability and access to customer data so you don’t lose that customer relationship.

Customer care – Now more than ever you need to know your customer and understand who you are selling to and how often. Think about adding a point-of-sale solution with customer experience rewards and offers. Reach new audiences and potential sales through the use of online marketing and social media platforms to promote your business.

As we go through this current crisis no-one knows what the future holds for the restaurant industry, we do know, it’s not going to be an easy ride and restaurants will need to remain (or become) flexible and agile in their offering and set-up. Ghost kitchens could provide a valuable channel for expansion and getting a new restaurant venture off the ground.

Do you need to chat about setting up a ghost kitchen? Get in touch!