As the surge in takeout and delivery shows no sign of slowing down, restaurants see ghost kitchens as long-term revenue opportunities. With these scaled down food-prep and cooking spaces, foodservice professionals can accommodate the demand for off-premise dining, without the pressures of a dine-in operation. From additional revenue to less space, lower overhead costs, and streamlined operations, the benefits know no bounds. But before you embark on a ghost kitchen endeavor, there are important considerations to keep in mind.
Rental space changes
Whether you want to complement your current operations by adding a ghost kitchen, or completely move to a virtual kitchen model, you’ll need to assess your space options. First, see what’s available. The good thing is, unlike traditional dine-in restaurants, you don’t need to worry about expensive real estate in high-traffic areas. Since ghost kitchens are dedicated to off-premise dining, it’s not necessary to pay for a premium location with lots of visibility. Instead, search for a cost-effective kitchen space or get to work converting a space you already occupy.
Business plan adjustments
Before you commit to opening a ghost kitchen, you’ll want to revamp your business plan. This will require you to analyze the current ghost kitchen market, so you can plan and strategize accordingly. Not only that, but it’ll help to inform sales projections, budgeting, staffing, and other operational decisions. If you’re thinking of adding a ghost kitchen to your existing setup, factor in the additional budget you’ll need for marketing, staffing, rental, and equipment expenses. Or, if you’re converting your existing operations, determine how the change will impact your overhead and overall budget. Taking these steps will ensure you are financially prepared before you launch your ghost kitchen.
Quality control becomes more of a challenge with off-premise dining. What’s one way around this? Modify your menu for to-go. You don’t need unlimited options to keep your clientele happy. Rather, if you offer a pared-down menu, you’re more likely to execute on it perfectly each time. Carefully choose menu items that require less finishing time, so you can deliver fast and consistent results. Beyond those benefits, a simplified menu will enable you to streamline your ghost kitchen operations, provide better service, and save on costs.
Space and equipment plans
Ghost kitchens usually have less square footage than a typical commercial kitchen, so think about how you’ll make the most of your space. Efficiency is the name of the game, and considering the limited space, you’ll likely need to get creative with your kitchen design and layout. Save on space, eliminate clutter, and optimize workflows with compact, versatile equipment. A salamander, for example, is small, but it’s the master of multitasking — allowing you to cook, grill, sear, gratinate, reheat, and hold a variety of foods all from one footprint. In other words, it’s just one cost-effective and space-saving piece of equipment, yet it does the work of many. Look for versatile equipment types like this so you can maximize your space, stretch your dollars, and facilitate smoother workflows.
Your marketing strategy
Whether you’re adding to your operations, or changing your business model completely, you’ll need a robust marketing plan in place to get the word out. But, that doesn’t mean you have to spend a pretty penny. Even if you have a shoestring budget, you can effectively market your ghost kitchen offerings. Leverage social media platforms, offer enticing promotions, and engage with the local community to promote your business and build your customer base.
Get tips on ghost kitchen design.
As you do the research and lay the groundwork for a potential ghost kitchen, don’t underestimate one of the most important elements of this business model: the kitchen design. Learn how to optimize your ghost kitchen setup with our ultimate guide to ghost kitchen design.