what is a ghost kitchen
July 21, 2021 Comments(0)

Ghost Kitchens: What are They and How Can You Use Them?

With the rise in popularity of services like DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats delivery services, enterprising food, and snack businesses are looking to cash in on the trend. Convenient delivery apps are one thing. But how can you cook tasty treats and build a profitable business without breaking the bank? One tactic is to use a ghost kitchen. No ouija board required.

What is a ghost kitchen?

Ghost kitchens, AKA cloud kitchens, dark kitchens, or virtual kitchens, are a business model where staff prepares food for delivery companies or virtual-only brands.

If your snack business uses a ghost kitchen, the ghost kitchen is basically a fully functioning, full-service restaurant — sans the dining room.

The ghost kitchen doesn’t have your typical storefront and doesn’t take in foot traffic looking to dine in. Instead, the cloud kitchen services delivery orders and delivery drivers.

Cloud kitchens contain all of the prep, equipment, and food storage without the dine-in arrangement for patrons. The major selling point of a ghost kitchen is that it prepares meals for food delivery services, restaurants, and other food-based businesses. The finished products are then picked up for delivery.

So if your startup is looking to save on kitchen space, you might want to look into renting a ghost kitchen. It offers a range of benefits that you won’t get with your standard brick-and-mortar restaurant.

Are ghost kitchens legal?

Ghost kitchens are legal to operate and use. In Chicago, New York, or any city, the local health and planning department regulates the restaurant business. Ghost kitchens fall under this legal purview.

The rise in cloud kitchen popularity hasn’t introduced any new concepts regarding commercial kitchen operations and legality. All business and health standard codes apply to the ghost kitchen the same as for a traditional dine-in restaurant.

How does a ghost kitchen work?

Ghost kitchens offer a shared kitchen concept, preparing food for a multitude of brands. They’re typically located in areas with a high demand for food delivery services. Some very profitable name-brand companies that have made the ghost kitchen concept their entire business model are Kitchen United and Cloud Kitchens, based in Los Angeles.

These kitchen facilities for rent work like this:

You rent from a landlord who runs a ghost kitchen business like Cloud Kitchens. Then you get your foodservice business listed on popular delivery platforms like UberEats or DoorDash. Get customers, then send out your orders from the ghost kitchen space you’re renting.

ghost kitchens_baking in virtual kitchen
Baking in a ghost kitchen can help emerging brands scale up.

 

 

How can you use a ghost kitchen for your packaging product?

You can use a ghost kitchen to launch a completely new restaurant business or packaging product. Or you can use your rented kitchen to expand delivery services for existing menu items.

For established restaurants and brick-and-mortar foodservice businesses, ghost kitchens aren’t a good option unless they already have a solid and recognizable brand. If you’ve got a strong brand, you can extend your delivery range in a cost-efficient manner using ghost kitchens.

Tip: If you’re packing a retail or online product, such as protein bars or cookies, you’ll need to ask for pre-formed packaging products. Stand-up pouches and wrappers would arrive to your kitchen fully printed and custom sized. They would be fully formed with one end open for you to fill and heat seal. Ask your kitchen if they have heat sealing equipment or a flow wrapper.

 

What about virtual restaurants?

Often, the terms ghost kitchen and virtual restaurant are used interchangeably. But these are slightly different concepts in the restaurant industry.

With a virtual restaurant, food is prepped from an existing brick-and-mortar location or a food truck. The menu items are still sold over popular food delivery apps. But in a virtual restaurant concept, you would be using your own equipment instead of renting new kitchen space.

In most cases, virtual restaurants do not serve foot traffic and are takeout and delivery only.

Thanks to the pandemic, there’s a massive demand for delivery services for people and pet food. That demand is set to continue growing long after the current crisis passes.

stand up pouch pet food packaging

Can pet treat brands benefit from using a ghost kitchen?

Ghost kitchens aren’t just for making tacos. Emerging brands in the foodservice industry can certainly benefit from using a cloud kitchen, whether their food is for human or animal consumption.

If you’ve got a four-legged customer base, using a ghost kitchen to make and deliver pet treats and foods is a cost-efficient way to build your startup.

Just Kitchen Holdings Corp is a ghost kitchen business that specializes in delivery-only food brands. Recently, the company announced that it launched a proprietary brand called Wow Chow, with menu items for dogs and cats available for delivery via Uber Eats.

Thanks to the pandemic, there’s a massive demand for delivery services for people and pet food. That demand is set to continue growing long after the current crisis passes.

Using a ghost kitchen for your brand

If you’re looking to extend your delivery range or break out into the foodservice industry with an entirely new concept and menu items, a ghost kitchen can save you in startup costs, overhead, and time to launch. But with any delivery item, durable, customer-friendly, and branded packaging is a must.

At Prairie State Group, we specialize in food-safe flexible packaging and have consistently received the highest scores possible for food safety in the packaging industry. So whether you need pet food packaging, stick packs, or pressure sensitive labels, we’ve got you covered and can guide you toward the best packaging solution for your needs and objectives.

Contact us today to start exploring your options.