VANCOUVER — When the COVID-19 outbreak forced many restaurants to shutter dining rooms across Canada, Vancouver-based Joey Restaurants responded by opening two “ghost kitchens” — a new model being adopted for delivery- and pick-up-only spaces.

Large restaurant chains are accelerating their adoption of the design, in which centralized kitchens pump out orders without the need for a dining room, amid a surge in demand during the pandemic, and the trend may be here to stay.

“All the big players are actually having this conversation,” said Robert Carter, industry analyst with The StratonHunter Group.

Ghost kitchens started cropping up several years ago, typically with individual restaurants operating a delivery-only business that differed from what they sold in their dining rooms.

By the start of the year, Carter said, the idea started gaining popularity among bigger players in the full-service restaurant chain space, he said, especially in the United States where third-party companies sprang up to create virtual kitchen concepts for existing restaurants.

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