Everyone of us, irrespective of our occupations, retire to our home after work and don’t want to have anything to do with the outside world for the rest of the day.
The more energetic of us find it in themselves to go out for a nice dinner.
If I told you that your order was made in a ghost kitchen, how would you react?
Most of us can’t find it in us to lift a finger to cook, yet we can’t seem to move a muscle to get up from the sofa as well. Gladly, everything is easier now that the internet has exploded.
Online delivery is the go-to option for every household. Even the infamous candlelight dinner is being replaced with netflix and chill – and order online.
Ghost Kitchen Preamble
While nutritionists and physical experts may argue at the top of their voices of how detrimental to your health online delivery is, we’re here ordering away to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Online Delivery is going to run the food industry. The sharing economy is moving to restaurants.
UberEats, Postmates, and other crowd-employed delivery services demand efficient restraurant suppliers.
We’re all humans, not cyborgs. After a day’s worth of work, may it be in schools, colleges, universities or workplace, cutting out a stroll down an alleyway to a fast food corner won’t be the reason you’re not getting those abs. and, anyway, you still got those curves, right? Anyway, we digress.
This is the on-demand culture, and having delivery-only, on-demand food available 24/7 fits perfectly into this social trend.
Not to mention, food is diverse, and so is online delivery, thanks to take out restaurants.
Diet conscious people can order delicious, low-calorie, low-fat, healthy food options from the cluster of menus available at the literal tips of your fingers, all while being guilt-free about any extra pounds.
Okay, so online delivery is amazing. We get that. It’s affordable, fast, and easy. Now, if you were told your order was made in a ghost kitchen, how would you react?
When we first heard it, our reaction was “WTF is a ghost kitchen??”
So what is a ‘ghost kitchen’?
A ghost kitchen is a professional kitchen which is utilized by several different delivery-only or takeout-only food brands. Existing restaurants may rent out their kitchen to other companies during off hours.
They utilize online ordering channels almost exclusively. There may not even be seats or a storefront at all – it’s all online.
It’s a ghost kitchen because you can’t really go to it.
It’s there, somewhere, but you can’t go and visit or dine in there, because they won’t cater to such consumers.
You can only order online and the gig economy magically delivers the food to your door.
A ghost kitchen is a professional kitchen set up for the preparation of delivery-only meals. Also known as a commissary kitchen, dark kitchen, or cloud 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.
All a consumer needs to do is call and order their stomach’s desire.
Such facilities are mostly made in places that aren’t at a preferable dine-in location, such as a barren field, in industrial space, etc. but still are close to the main roads to ensure fast takeaway delivery by a third-party.
Ghost Kitchen Statistics
Ghost kitchen statistics are trending due to the sudden explosive demand for online delivery. Consumers spent $10.2 billion on delivery services in 2018, up 42% from the previous year, according to Technomic data.
The ghost kitchen market size is projected to go up approximately 10-fold by 2030.
We here at Ghost Kitchen Gurus expect the statistics for ghost kitchens to reach that 10x multiple sooner than 2030.
Restaurant chains have considerably expanded their use of third-party services to get meals directly to consumers’ homes, which could be pulling sales up.
– Jonathan Maze, RestaurantBusinessOnline.com
Cash influx at this rate is much more attractive than 9-6 shift hours with significantly lower income. Not that we’re against the ambience or anything- a walk-in restaurant has its own quirks.
It’s just that we’re looking for what pays the bills- a profit on the producer side and a discount on the consumer side. It’s a win-win situation.
How is a ghost kitchen model run?
Now, what exactly is the procedure of this glorious new discovery? Well, taking a chronological order of events, you’re tired!
You return home, throw whatever you’re carrying on one side of the sofa, throw yourself on the other side, throw your socks off, but right before you are about to throw a fit about who’s going to cook tonight, you hear a notification on your phone.
Ding! Apparently, you’ve received a discount coupon for a cheeseburger from a restaurant chain you like. Your mouth waters as you place your order.
The expected time of delivery flashes on the screen of your phone, never more than 30 minutes.
This order has been received by a Ghost kitchen facility.
Two cooks here are currently under the control of the entire kitchen and there is no unneeded work rush or strain on them, thus they can prepare your order to perfection.
They can focus more on the packaging, freshness and quality of food because they aren’t already under pressure to maintain a nice environment for the customers outside- because there aren’t any at all.
Not a full team of labour is needed to prepare your meal.
Not a penny is being wasted on extra rent, taxes, or extra waiters and clerks.
Just one professional cook who will receive your order on an attached device, and will cook your order to perfection with minimal wastage of time and energy.
Then, a delivery boy goes to the kitchen to take away your meal to your destination, and makes sure it reaches you warm (or cold if you love ice-cream). You pay the guy, and he’s off to deliver to someone else.
Farm to Table vs. Ghost Kitchen to Sofa
There are quite a few differences to mention in a comparison of the farm to table trend as it relates to ghost kitchens. We think the term Ghost to Sofa may start to resonate as this nascent industry picks up.
Farm to table is about quality. It’s about local. Local is for quality. It’s for supporting community.
Ghost Kitchen to Sofa is about speed, efficiency, and volume. Ghost kitchens also have a local component,but its more focused on fulfilling the supply chain efficiency needs of close proximity of goods.
And then there’s probably hybrids everywhere in between.
Why choose a Ghost Kitchen?
So, this is the whole story behind these ghost kitchens. Now, why not just have a regular restaurant takeaway?
That’s just about the same thing, isn’t it?
Dear reader, that’s far from the case. Ghost kitchens are much more efficient monetarily. This is due to deduction in many aspects of a regular dine-in restaurant chain.
Chipotle has regained its own momentum this year thanks to strong growth in digital orders and delivery.
The chains are all limited-service concepts. Technomic expects those restaurants to grow sales by 4.3%, just under their five-year average of 4.4%.
-Jonathan Maze, RestuarantBusinessOnline.com
(links added by GKG)
To run a restaurant you need a huge kitchen, a spacious sitting arrangement, a considerable parking spot, and washrooms separate for men, women, and staff.
This adds up quickly to hefty expenditures. The costs of infrastructure and rent over an already expensive plot of commercial real estate makes it difficult to reach profitability
After that, furniture is needed which complements the design to create a likable, pretty sitting area. Now that that’s out of the way, we need people, chop chop!
A huge labour force is needed, cleaners, waitresses, cashiers, call-duty representatives, a guard, and a whole team of cooks that are friendly to one another, work well, and know how to server their menu efficiently.
Now you have your restaurant up and running, it doesn’t end! Fledgling restauranteurs go through months of grueling schedules, dealing with hassles, and maintaining a perfect dining experience.
So many details – table setting, ambience, attitudes of people, workers messing up stuff, people complaining about too much salt or too much sugar, and before you even know it, oh dear me, you’re stressed to your core.
Now, compare this to our ghost kitchen. We only need facilities to cater to the ghost kitchen personnel and no more. Two or three cooks that know what they’re doing. Wait, that’s it?
Connecting the Consumer and the Ghost Kitchen
It’s an ever-more-appealing prospect as the $17 billion U.S. online food delivery market climbs toward a projected $24 billion by 2023, according to data portal Statista.
It also helps keep his labor cost around 19.5 percent, even as minimum wage has increased 50 percent locally over the last five years.
So, we’re minimizing wastage of time and energy to give people the perfect online delivery experience.
Ghost kitchens are affiliated with third party delivery systems that take care of the photography of the food for online delivery apps like UberEats, KitchenUnited etc., the packaging of the food, and its instant delivery.
However, 30% of the sales profit goes to these delivery app in charges.
These delivery channels are multiplying, so software is emerging that helps delivery-only businesses consolidate orders from all of them.
Given the marketing and advertising they put in to promote business, these social media applications are doing one heck of a job. Furthermore, these apps have a huge selection of restaurant chains, including StarBucks, Fatburger, Rebel Foods, Keatz and so on.
In some cases, about 14-15 menus from different chains of restaurants can be prepared from a single ghost kitchen.
Rat-race or Ratatouille?
Although one may argue that this causes a decrease in employment, that is simply not the case.
Cooks are humans and need to work in shifts, thus the total number of cooks employed remains the same.
There are increased job opportunities for deliverers, call centers, and desk managers running these apps.
Since an increased amount of money is being generated by making online delivery available to a greater amount of people more efficiently, it should create higher revenue and in influx to the economy instead of being harmful to it.
In areas that are too hot or too cold to venture outside, no-body wants to leave their houses to eat.
Ghost kitchens may be the savior and take some extra pressure off of restaurants that don’t do delivery well.
The Party Goes on Till Midnight (and After)
One more notable point is that online delivery is available at any time of the day.
Restaurants will almost always close after 9-11 pm, and delivery may not start again the next day until 10 in the morning or even later than that.
This means if you’re into midnight snacking and the fridge betrays you, you’re about to suffer for a long night.
Not with ghost kitchens, you’re not- they care about you.
The applications that have food delivered to your doorstep at 3 am in the morning are because of these merciful ghost kitchens.
Nigel Travis, CEO of Dunkin Donuts believes that delivery will turn out to be the holy grail [of the restaurant industry] in the next few years.
GloriaFood’s infographics state that by 2020 restaurants that do not offer online delivery will lose over 70% of their customers.
Uber’s former CEO Travis Kalanick has invested in the Indian Ghost Kitchen company Rebel Foods.
Ghost Kitchens are Clean, Safe, and Sanitary
Ghost kitchens are also easier to maintain because of the smaller size. This gives a much more sanitary condition to prepare food in.
It promotes cleanliness and thus reduces the risk of disease and low-quality food. It’s hard to handle a huge kitchen with six to twelve people working at the same time, messing up counters with grease and oil and whatnot- and takes hours of effort to clean up later on.
This leaves loopholes for dirty workplace conditions over time which is the reason why more than often we find news of a restaurant chain being shut down by the food authorities as they do not meet community standards for health.
Cockroaches and mice may also be found in a poorly kept kitchen- this is something unknown to ghost-kitchen facilities because work is done in shorter shifts.
Specialized cleaning crews will take care of the turnover between shifts from different ghost crews.
Cleaning crews whose sole job is to clean kitchens rotate in after shifts.
For the ghost kitchen staff, not much work is needed relative to a traditional setup, which is the reason why the little work that is needed is done periodically and to the point of perfection.
This is all done ensured so that the consumer experience remains satisfactory and sales are generated without a single complaint.
Ghost Kitchens WANT Your Feedback!
Speaking of complaints, these online delivery applications are persistent in trying to find out whether you liked our order or not. They ask for you to leave your comments and give a rating.
This rating greatly affects their online business thus they need to keep it top-notch. All the more reason to give the consumer a wonderful experience.
Poor ratings means less business, which empowers the consumer to flush out bad business more quickly.
It may seem arguable to say that these comments are taken seriously.
However, these delivery apps are made in a way that your comments and reviews are public, thus if the consumer has a bad experience, he/she may be able to potentially make some other consumers avoid that experience by his/her bad review.
If a scene is created at a restaurant regarding bad food there is a chance of the restaurant fixing it then and there and sending you off.
Your bad experience does not get projected out into the public for a greater audience to be aware of during their own purchases.
However, with these apps your review stays there for a long time for hundreds to see.
Thus, an impact is made on the consumer’s side which increases their power by having a say in what they’re being served.
Furthermore, the star rating system makes up an average of all the purchase experiences of all the consumers of a certain brand, and statistics never lie.
Youth empowerment, women empowerment, minority empowerment, we all know about that- ever heard of food empowerment? That’s what ghost kitchens can enable.
Amazing International Statistics and Facts about Ghost Kitchens
Online food delivery is an international phenomenon; in 2016, the US food delivery market was valued at 83 million, and it has been rising exponentially ever since.
The London-based food delivery app, Deliveroo, has its own ghost kitchen by the name of Deliveroo Editions, announcing plans in 2017 to set up 30 kitchens in London and Brighton.
Companies such as Mumbai-based Rebel Foods formerly start off as restaurant food delivery companies, later expand into ghost kitchens.
Very recently in September 2019 they announced a round of investment totalling $2 billion rupees ($28 million) having shares from Goldman Sachs and other partners. UberEats, Uber’s food delivery service and app recently opened its first ghost kitchen in Paris.
So, we can all easily agree that ghost kitchens are the next upcoming trend all over the world, and with reputable restaurant chains like StarBucks and FatBurger investing in them, everybody is in for a snack.
Soon ghost kitchen facilities will increase in number in almost every country making online delivery the most efficient and easy mode of consumption for man.
Ghost Kitchen Companies
We’ll be tracking all of the ghost kitchen companies as they start up, fizzle out, and flourish.
Hopefully most flourish. However, we’ve seen so many other early stage industry participants fizzle out in other industries.
Ghost Kitchen Software
This is going to be a high tech industry, so it’s not going to be long until the tech world starts building tooling around it. Specialty Ghost kitchen software is right around the corner.
Let’s All be Friends – Ghost Kitchens don’t Outdo Sitdown Restaurants
There is no threat of extra competition between restaurants and ghost kitchens. While having food delivered to your doorstep is great, going out to eat has its own attraction.
Families have the desire to spend a nice Sunday dinner in a restaurant of their choice, enjoying the pretty arrangements and decorations while having to do zero effort in table setting and dishwashing, which is convenient on its own.
Sit down restaurants are able to generate revenue from remnant kitchen time. Any restauranteur understand the value of optimizing the utilization of their space and equipment.
So, it’s a no brainer to partner with a take out business and generate extra revenue.
It’s important for restaurants to stay in business- where else would the lover take his tinder girlfriend out to eat?
It all depends on the moment’s convenience and constraints of time and energy, and having both the options of a dine-in restaurant or ghost kitchen really proves that mankind is advancing in all ways possible.
So what do we make of all this Ghost Kitchen hype?
Ghost kitchens. Now we know what they are, how they work, who they work for, and whether their work will make a difference in the community (yes, of course.).
Our beloved online deliveries of cheeseburgers at midnight are going to continue at a fever pitch because of these ghost kitchen working their magic.
They’re beneficial not only to us, but to the business operators as well, being monetarily efficient and minimizing workload time and output energy.
Now, owners can focus on improving the quality of our orders to a level of perfection in terms of freshness, taste, and packaging.
Delivery is done by online applications which track down consumer locations and connect them to the nearest ghost kitchen for take away in mere minutes.
Not to mention the unexpected joys they provide by throwing in a free coupon for an extra order or two for a regular customer, as well as discounts on desirable restaurant chains all year long.
These “dark kitchens” might just be a successful concept and have great potential for further development. If we’ve ever wanted to be in a nascent market super early, we’re born in the right place and time.