Restaurants run by ghosts? Why “ghost kitchens” are becoming popular
Thanks to the pandemic, there has been a surge in running ghost kitchens this past year. But what does that even mean? And no, we assure you it isn’t as terrifying as it sounds. While the term may sound like something straight out of a horror flick, a ghost kitchen is actually a lot less horrifying as you may assume. And we’re sure you’ve probably already experienced visiting a ghost kitchen before without even knowing it.
It’s very likely that ghost kitchens are only going to continue getting more and more popular from here on out. So without further ado, let’s break down what they actually are, and how & why they’re supposedly the future of public dining.
What even is a ghost kitchen in the first place?
If you haven’t the slightest idea of what a ghost kitchen is, let’s backtrack a bit and start off with introducing you to this term. A ghost kitchen is basically just a food and cooking facility that is created specifically for delivery-only meals. Ghost kitchens do not have any type of seating, whether it be outside of the store or inside the area. And because of the pandemic, it’s evident to see why there’s been such a surge in these establishments.
However, the start of ghost kitchens took place long before COVID-19 shook the entire world, and the term was actually first used in a NBC New York article from 2015. In the article, NBC critiqued these so-called “ghost kitchens” after they investigated restaurant owners from New York City who listed and disguised their eateries under numerous different brands on food delivery apps such as GrubHub.
Of course though, once the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by a storm, restrictions placed on restaurant establishments such as limited seating or no inside dining at all caused a rise in these types of ghost kitchens. Ghost kitchens were the perfect way for people who loved to dine out to enjoy restaurant food while still being able to be safe by staying indoors and slowing the spread of COVID-19.
So could ghost kitchens really be the future? Well, predictions from experts are saying that there is a very high chance for that possibility. According to Euromonitor, a market research firm, they recently predicted that ghost kitchens could be a business that is worth up to $1 trillion dollars by the year 2030. So does this mean that we one day will have to say our goodbyes to traditional eating establishments?
Eater also mentioned that this surge in ghost kitchens is “ happening concurrently with near-impossible working conditions for many brick-and-mortar restaurants. Stores in cities that once did a brisk lunch business saw sales fall off a cliff. To mitigate losses, some restaurants are throwing everything they have at virtual expansion, creating entirely new brands that live online”.
Most of these establishments end up partnering with popular food delivery apps that have become even more popular since the beginning of quarantine such as Uber Eats, GrubHub, or DoorDash. Others will look to establishments that have kitchen facilities hosting multiple concepts.
Aaron Noveshen, CEO of Starbird Chicken, a Bay Area fried chicken establishment with some stores and virtual brands like Starbird Wings, Starbird Salads, and more, claims that “By having multiple brands, we own a greater portion of digital real estate. [With] five brands on an Uber Eats or a DoorDash, we can target a consumer who’s looking for a more specialized product. We can make that site highlight a full menu category”.
So, what are your thoughts on this surge in ghost kitchens? Are you for or against them? Let us know in the comments.