The Next Wave of Restaurant Concepts Opt for Off-Premise Only
As global pandemic continues to affect the food and beverage industry, more and more restaurants are looking to ghost kitchens to support their brand.
What is a ghost kitchen? It’s a restaurant kitchen with no dining room that exists solely for the purpose of fulfilling off-premise orders.
This may seem counter-intuitive to most food businesses, who would traditionally want guests to stay longer, ordering multiple courses and conversing over drinks. But that’s all changing now, with safety, convenience, and portability becoming the most important parts of the dining experience.
Restaurants Turn to Ghost Kitchens
Who’s in the Game?
Many national food businesses have been eyeing the ghost concept for years now, considering it’s potential and possibilities of success. In the wake of the global pandemic, rather than scaling back, many are going full steam ahead into development of these concepts.
Famous Dave’s launched a 200 square foot ghost kitchen in Chicago’s West Loop and its success has exceeded the expectations of the owners. Fresh Borders California Pizza executes their menu out of a shared kitchen space with nearly 20 other concepts, all capitalizing on the benefits of the ghost kitchen.
Dallas-based fan favorite Wing Stop launched a ghost kitchen in Garland, TX which requires only about 400 square feet to operate, whereas their traditional operation have a roughly 1,750 square foot footprint. Even brands like Wendy’s and Smokey Bones have joined in.
The model of the ghost kitchen also offers many potential benefits for restaurants. Smaller footprints equal less cost in real estate and insurance. Ordering apps and lack of dining rooms minimize staff needed to execute operations. And scaled down menus, focusing on quality delivery items, means less cost in ingredients and equipment.
And the F&B industry as a whole is finding other ways to benefit. Companies like Kitchen United are building out large kitchen spaces that can house multiple operations in one location. This can mean one central ghost kitchen actually contains a multitude of individual kitchens, customized and tailored to the type of cuisine being made, all under one roof.
Consulting firms are also getting in the mix, helping new concepts develop online storefronts, navigate technology, and creatively minimize expenses.
Location, Location, Location
Location matters. Ask any business owner. It’s important for businesses to be near their markets for access and delivery. This is another place that ghost kitchens can become a handy tool in the restaurateurs toolbox.
By strategically locating ghost kitchens in high volume areas, businesses can decrease single-store volume and delivery times/distances. So, let’s say you have a pizza delivery company. You could spend the money to set up another store front with branding, imagery, and a place for customers, or you could set up a ghost kitchen that operates to go orders only. Think of the value!
Another strategic benefit is market testing. With smaller ghost kitchen locations you can roll out regional LTOs or test new products in specific markets for a short time. This way you can simply stock a few ghost kitchens with new ingredients and digitally market the new items in specific zip codes. What a great way to gauge your demographic for new flavors and trends!
Should Your Brand Consider a Ghost Kitchen?
It might not be a bad idea. Regardless of what the future holds with the pandemic, consumers are developing new habits around dining out that will be hard to reverse. Plus, the flexibility and diminished cost of operating a ghost kitchen make it a powerful tool in a time where off-site dining is becoming the new normal. Food for thought…