Although the term “ghost kitchen” may conjure up thoughts of a phantom cooking at a stove, they’re actually more alive than ever before. Ghost kitchens are popping up in every city, so if you want to tap into this growing market, you’ll need to do so fast. Here’s how to open one.
What are Ghost Kitchens?
Ghost kitchens, or cloud/virtual kitchens, are commercial kitchens that don’t have a dine-in area, storefront, or front-of-house staff that serve customers. The vast majority of these kitchens only route orders through third-party delivery services, like Uber Eats, but some offer takeout.
What Makes Ghost Kitchens Successful?
Restaurants struggled during the pandemic. As lockdowns continued, the industry had to figure out a way to stay competitive with its doors closed. Thanks to third-party delivery apps, many restaurants were able to remain in business, but it didn’t make paying the rent any easier.
Ghost kitchens are that perfect intersection between sit-in restaurants and a catering service. Most ghost kitchens have restaurant-sized kitchens but without the overheads that come with a large seating area. That means they can offer restaurant-quality meals for a low price.
What Are the Benefits (and Drawbacks) of Ghost Kitchens?
Ghost kitchens have smaller overheads, smaller staff, and a simplified startup process. But ghost kitchens aren’t able to interact with their customers often, may experience high delivery costs, and often have a smaller menu. However, we feel the positives outweigh the negatives.
And the market agrees. According to Restaurant Drive, ghost kitchens could become a $1 trillion global market by 2030. Although restaurants are usually recession-proof, the pandemic showed that eateries could shut down at any time. Ghost kitchens can weather the storm.
Should I Make a Website for My Ghost Kitchen?
Yes. Since your business will operate primarily online, you’ll need a website. But building a website can be an intimidating or almost impossible task if you don’t know how to code.
Wix has one of the best website builders for restaurants because it includes all solutions you are going to need to run a successful ghost kitchen. With an in-platform menu builder, online ordering system, and marketing tools, you’ll be able to create and promote your online restaurant without any prior coding knowledge or website experience.
If you have a restaurant but you want to transition to a ghost kitchen, you can start taking all of your reservations online through your website. Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar restaurant or ghost kitchen, you can accept secure payments on your website via desktop or an online app.
How Do I Open a Ghost Kitchen?
To open a ghost kitchen, you’ll need to partner with third-party delivery apps, purchase a commercial kitchen, and market your business.
Here’s how you open a ghost kitchen.
1. Optimize Your Menu
Make a menu that’s catered to delivery. Time and temperature are huge issues with food quality, so offer a limited menu with similar ingredients and preparation methods to lower food costs and keep menu items fresh for longer.
2. Select a Location
You can set up your virtual kitchen just about anywhere, but you still need to consider real estate costs and signage for your takeout customers if you’re catering to them. Focus on high-traffic areas to entice local customers.
3. Write a Business Plan
You’ll need a business plan to figure out the complexities of your restaurant, future goals, and business partners. Business plans are also needed to attract investors and convince lenders to issue loans, credit, and other financing options.
4. Determine Distribution Channels
Are you only offering delivery, or are you also providing takeout? Do you want a drive-thru? What delivery methods will you use? Will you have your own drivers or freelancers? Do you have takeout-friendly packaging?
5. Follow Restaurant Regulations
Ghost kitchens have to follow the same regulations as restaurants. You’ll need a business and food service license and an employee health, seller’s, and resale permit. You also have to follow food safety guidelines in your state.
6. Source Your Suppliers
If you’re transiting from a sit-in restaurant to a ghost kitchen, you may already have a supplier. New restaurants will need to shop around for food suppliers with the best deals, so they can make a profit as soon as possible.
7. Create a Marketing Plan
You already know you need a website, but what else do you need to acquire new customers? If you want your ghost kitchen to succeed, you need to invest in digital marketing. You’ll need to build a social media presence, promote your restaurant on delivery apps, and create ads that are unique to your business.
8. Train and Staff Your Kitchen
Ghost kitchens require fewer staff members than sit-in restaurants, but you still need to train and recruit them. If you offer benefits to your staff members, like competitive pay, benefits, and culture, you’ll attract a lot of talent.
To constantly improve your ghost kitchen after you open, use analytics software and track your ROI. If you keep tabs on what you’re making, you’ll be able to adjust to consumer demand.