What the what?

I don’t know about you but when I heard these terms at first I was a little confused and intrigued. But mostly confused. “Ghost kitchen” makes me think of a Casper in that scene from the movie and a “virtual kitchen” seems like something run by robots in a not-so-distant future. 

After some research and discovery, I found that I was wrong. Well, mostly wrong. There are robots cooking food but that’s not what a virtual kitchen is.

Here is a general definition for each.

After some research and discovery, I found that I was wrong. Well, mostly wrong. There are robots cooking food but that’s not what a virtual kitchen is.

Ghost Kitchen:

A ghost kitchen is a professional food preparation and cooking facility set up for the preparation of delivery-only meals. Some ghost kitchens have allowed takeout meals or included drive-throughs. They do not include a storefront or indoor seating for customers.

Virtual Kitchen:

A virtual restaurant is a food service business that serves customers exclusively by delivery based on phone orders or online food ordering. It is a separate food vendor entity that operates out of an existing restaurant’s kitchen. 

Ghost vs Virtual Kitchen

Why?

When COVID hit many restaurants had to quickly shift into a “to go”, mostly pick-up model. Everyone had to figure it out on the fly. Patching platform with the platform. Failing, falling, and flying by the set of our pants! It was rough, to say the least. I wanted to find a way to bridge the gap and help restaurateurs like us find some hope.  

I started to think about a local delivery platform we could use instead of the current models that take a significant cut. Trying to keep our dollars local and reduce fees for struggling restaurants. Thankfully we had local officials rallying around that and were able to get those fees reduced and capped. Great news! However, it wasn’t enough. Many of us needed more. 

So I put my head down again and heard about a couple new brands doing these “virtual kitchens”. The idea was pretty cool. They explained that when my kitchen was experiencing slow times we could “turn on” their kitchen and start receiving orders for their stuff. All we had to do was make it, pack it and the driver would come pick it up. They would do all the marketing and take care of all the online ordering applications. They do take a significant chunk of the money but they build the brand and make it as easy as possible to make something out of nothing. 

The three brands they built also came with some celebrity power. Names like Mr. Beast who has over one hundred and ten million subscribers and over fifteen billion views. Or Mariah Carey who sings that absolutely amazing gem of a Christmas song. To name a few.

So that was the “virtual” model. Now the “ghost kitchen”.

We’ve seen the “ghost kitchen” model being used locally by Saucey Chef and a few others, especially around the Commissary Kitchen

This model is more stable and built around certain hours. You do all the marketing, menu and coordinate the pickups/deliveries. Because of that, you also reap all the rewards. Except in the case that you use a third-party order and delivery system like Grubhub or UberEats who charge a percentage. This model can also help you build your brand. Using a “ghost kitchen” can also help brands who had to take a step back during the covid rebuild. 

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