The 5 Ws of The Ghost Kitchen
The only scary part about a ghost kitchen is that more people don’t know about it. Luckily, one of our Senior Project Designers, John Rossi, did the research for you! If you’re not familiar with the foodservice and hospitality industry, I’d bet your first question, like mine was, is: What on earth is a ghost kitchen?!
The ghost kitchen is a physical space for operators to create food for off-premises consumption. Many ghost kitchens are home to multiple vendors that pay to use the same kitchen. The ghost kitchen, otherwise known as a cloud kitchen, virtual restaurant, dark kitchen, or shared kitchen, is portable, and low cost, with a high profit.
It can produce food for establishments that serve wings, tacos, sandwiches, and pizza, ALL in the same kitchen! The ghost kitchen serves many concepts, for multiple vendors, in the same back of house hub.
Being that it satisfies many food concepts, there are many pieces of equipment that can be incorporated, dependent on the vendor’s needs. For example, one can opt for a ventless pizza oven that rotates and can cook three pies at once, a ventless oven with panini presses inside, or a ventless Evo griddle.
No one seems to know exactly when the ghost kitchen was born. According to Wikipedia, the term "ghost kitchen" was first used in a 2015 NBC New York article. The article was critical of ghost kitchens in New York City, where restaurant owners were found by an investigative team to be listing their restaurant under multiple different brands on delivery applications such as Seamless and Grubhub. The concept is interesting, and its domain is only expanding.
The ghost kitchen is versatile. It can be installed virtually anywhere. You can open a kitchen where there normally wouldn’t be one! It seems as if this breakthrough is not just for promoting an online virtual restaurant. Implementing these ‘pop up’ kitchens can even help improve production and timeliness of an already ‘real life’ restaurant. One of the five main companies that have started creating ghost kitchens, Ghost Kitchen Brands, is out of Toronto, and is partnering up with Walmart!
The beauty of the ghost kitchen is that anyone can utilize it. Being that it can be installed anywhere and serve multiple brands of food, anyone can take advantage of its flexibility. Specifically for Ghost Kitchen Brands, satisfies the menus of about 15 brands on their touchscreen kiosks. It is geared toward delivery focused restaurants. When ordering food through to-go apps like Grubhub, or Door Dash, these ghost kitchens can reach and serve hundreds with tap of a finger!
It’s important to have one of these in this day and age. Being that it’s a shared investment of a kitchen, it can quickly become an asset. Since the COVID-19 Pandemic, there have been an increase in trends amongst ordering food. The illustration below is from marketwatch.com.
It’s best to gain a grasp and hop on the ghost kitchen train before it leaves the station! Based off of a prediction from statista.com, ghost kitchens are in track to becoming a $71.4 billion industry by 2027.
Now that you have an understanding of what a ghost kitchen is, here's where John's expertise truly comes into play -- designing the space!
1. Evaluate the space. It is important to survey the site layout so all the equipment needed to meet the menu requirements of the vendors can be included.
2. A designer or contractor would need to be contacted to lay out the space
3. Double-Check! Its important to review all MEP, or mechanical electrical plumbing, information available and applicable to that site!
4. Finally, the installation. This also comes with training to employers and employees utilizing the space. Everyone would need to know how to use the equipment!
By the name of it, one may assume a ghost kitchen is something spooky, coming to haunt you from the past. In reality, this is the ticket to the future.