How ghost kitchens go the distance with delivery

When so-called “ghost kitchens” started appearing on the dining scene, they seemed like an enterprising solution to several nagging problems: the tight labor market, rising costs and the public’s growing appetite for delivered meals.

WHAT IS A GHOST KITCHEN?

Ghost kitchens – typically remote spaces rented by existing restaurants to handle delivery and takeout orders – are not for everyone, but they can open a new revenue stream, boost profits and grab more market share.

Originally launched as commissary ‘shared kitchens’ in off-site locations, many restaurants are starting to explore the option of running a virtual kitchen in their existing brick and mortar. The emerging option, using your own brick and mortar, involves picking a new menu type concept that uses many of your existing ingredients and building a separate digital brand. This option removes the overhead cost of a shared remote kitchen, while enabling the restaurant to serve food from their current concept, and a new cuisine type with low competition in the area. US Foods® recently launched Ghost Kitchens program provides operators with everything they need to launch.

WHY GO GHOST?

Most operators launch a ghost kitchen to capture more of the hot delivery segment. U.S. food delivery sales topped $19.4 million in 2019, and Euromonitor recently estimated that ghost kitchens could potentially top $1 trillion in revenue by 2030. Restaurants that aren’t equipped to handle high-volume delivery may face certain challenges – but those that are equipped stand to make a big profit from the seemingly permanent shift to off-premise dining caused by COVID-19.

Terri Bloomgarden, co-owner of Canter’s Deli in the Fairfax neighborhood of central Los Angeles, says kitchen logjams drove her to open an off-site commissary dedicated to delivery orders. “We do a lot of takeout and delivery, and if you don’t have a separate area for that, customers don’t understand what you’re doing when they are in the restaurant, waiting in line,” she says. Reaching a potential new market – downtown Los Angeles – factored in as well.

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