It is not unknown that the associated costs for the construction of a new restaurant are more expensive every day, and now much more due to the current market conditions. However, big problems require big solutions and this situation opens new opportunities. For this reason, brick and mortar restaurants can be out of consideration for some investors, but Dark Kitchens, also known as Ghost or Virtual Restaurants, are becoming more common as a great alternative for establishments that want home delivery & take-out as their main and only business option.
If any of you are not familiar with the concept of Dark Kitchens this brief description could help:
Ghost restaurants, also called Dark Kitchens, Virtual Kitchens, cloud kitchens, or headless restaurants are popping up more and more.
They are a side movement of the traditional brick and mortar restaurant concept as they have no seats, window displays, menu boards, or waiters and the only staff are the ones who prepared and pack and deliver the meals.
“But like any business concept, there are Pros and Cons”.
This concept is nothing new at all, in Latin America, they were called Economic Kitchens; an exclusive service to take away and home delivery where the client once received the complete meal has only reheated the food at home and enjoy it.
They are establishments that do not have physical premises in the conventional sense, where customers can enter, sit at a table and enjoy a meal. Instead, food can only be accessed online or through a mobile app or traditional marketing, and only for home delivery service through own or third-party personnel, there can also be a take-away service using a walk-thru or pick-up window.
The benefits of this model are clear and offer a much-needed efficiency boost for restaurant companies looking to offer this service or as a line-of-business extension since it allows them to be part of other established businesses or a join venture.
Many of the typical brick and mortar costs are eliminated. They are more profitable in areas where rents are very high. There are no additional decoration costs since an adequate selection of kitchen equipment is sufficient to start the operation.
Restaurant trends are constantly changing and it is estimated in the USA alone that 60% of consumers opt for at least once a week.
Dark Kitchens do not need to be located in a highly trafficked location, street front, etc.. The use of semi-new equipment can lower the initial investment.
Quick Adaptability of Menus.
Without a physical customer area (dinner area), Dark Kitchens are free to implement new menu concepts or eliminate those that don't work as fast as were implemented, as well as to implement seasonal, regional and In & Out products faster and without the need to update printed menus and implement new concepts, since everything can simply be done online.
Lower Staffing Cost
Ghost kitchens eliminate the need for a front-of-house.
An established restaurant should not be compared to a virtual kitchen; they are two completely different concepts.
Dark restaurants don't have the staff to receive and connect with their customers as a traditional restaurant does.
If they deliver their products through third parties they may lose control over what happens to their products once it leaves their facilities.
Implementing traditional marketing programs can be a significant cost because there is no storefront. Operating entirely online.