Written by Mr Marios Charalambous
A ghost kitchen or restaurant, also known as a virtual, dark, or even digital restaurant, is a place to prepare food strictly for home delivery and / or take away. In these restaurants the meals are intended exclusively for consumption outside the premises.
Ghost kitchens operate online, allowing customers to order food through their website or through food distribution companies such as Wolt, Bolt and Foody.
The main reasons why these companies have taken a huge upward trend are the new trend of consumers; they choose them out of personal preference and / or due to the spread of the coronavirus epidemic that requires measures of social distancing.
Advantages of ghost kitchen
- Lower start-up and operating costs: These types of restaurants do not have to be located in central locations where rentals are expensive. They can also easily change the dishes on the menu without the cost of reprinting them. In addition, some basic elements that regular restaurants need, such as the decoration, the signs, the dishes, etc. not necessary in virtual restaurants. Finally, the cost of human resources is reduced because the only staff required is that of the kitchen.
- Taking advantage of increased demand for online orders: Ghost kitchens can sell their meals through as many food distribution companies as they want, which already have a large number of regular customers.
- Flexible menu: These restaurants can easily and cheaply add meals to their menu in order to increase their demand and become popular. Also if a material becomes too expensive or is no longer locally accessible they can easily replace their dishes with others made from cheaper and more available materials.
- Access to the internet generation: Operating online, ghost restaurants are significantly expanding their customer base which now includes a large number of young people familiar with the digital world.
- More opportunities for experimentation: Another advantage is that if a type of cuisine does not have a response from the public, they can easily and without much expense turn it into something new or different.
- Bad weather: Unlike a regular restaurant, the clientele of the virtual restaurant will not decrease if one day there is terrible bad weather; on the contrary, there is a high probability that the clientele will increase.
Disadvantages of the ghost kitchen
Possibility of poor quality food after delivery: It is important that the food is packaged in a way that will keep it at the right temperature and will not alter its taste. For example, sauces should be placed on the side in a different container and food boxes should be isothermal.
- High commissions on online ordering platforms: The biggest problem with a ghost kitchen is that it has to pay a high fee on online food ordering platforms; sometimes commissions reach 30% of the order amount. An alternative to this problem is to enable the restaurant to its frequent customers to order through an easy-to-use online ordering system of the store itself, without commission.
- Customer reduction due to lack of exterior facade: Virtual restaurants "live" exclusively on the Internet, which means that they do not attract new customers due to the lack of attractive facade and facilities. This is another reason that makes digital promotion and advertising imperative.
- Limited customer base: Most catering services limit the delivery area usually within a radius of 5 to 8 km around the ghost kitchen, resulting in the loss of potential customers living further away.
If one is interested in entering the world of restaurants but start-up costs are a major deterrent, it is really worth considering a ghost kitchen. Make sure you choose an attractive name and focus on the brand and digital marketing. Finally, choose a professional, popular online food ordering and delivery platform for instant results.