The food and hospitality sectors, especially restaurants, are adapting to the evolving demands and behaviors of the diners. This has triggered the new trend of virtual food ordering and delivery and revolutionized the traditional restaurant business model.
This change has ushered in the era of ghost kitchens, dark kitchens, or cloud kitchens opening across the country. Although all three of the aforementioned kitchen names belong to the same concept, there are slight differences between them.
If you are a restaurateur, you may wonder what are ghost or cloud kitchens? Or what is the difference between a ghost kitchen and a cloud kitchen? If that is the case, this post is for you.
What are Dark Kitchens?
A dark kitchen is an original concept behind the trend of virtual restaurants, where new and existing restaurants lease an existing commercial kitchen space. The next step is to install their own equipment and hire the labor, chef, and food preparation staff to design a menu and cook the food.
In most ways, a dark kitchen operates just like your traditional kitchen. The only difference is that you will be delivering food to remote customers rather than offering them to visit your premises to dine in.
What are Cloud Kitchens?
A cloud kitchen is a unique restaurant idea and is a part of an already operational brick-and-mortar restaurant. For example, you can run a burger kitchen where you serve customers who love burgers and visit your premises to enjoy your offerings.
A cloud kitchen model allows you to expand your outreach to attract and serve new customers at their doorstep. You do not have to compromise your existing business model or brand. You simply add a new service to your already established brand and serve dine-in customers while delivering food to customers in your vicinity.
For food delivery, you will be partnering up with a third-party food delivery app such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, etc.
What are Ghost Kitchens?
Unlike virtual kitchens, a ghost kitchen has no connection to an existing restaurant. You can run a ghost kitchen completely independently. As a ghost kitchen owner, you create your own menus, and instead of opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant, you prepare the dishes in a kitchen close to your potential customers.
You can either have your own ghost kitchen or share the same facility with other ghost kitchens. A ghost kitchen will operate exclusively using an automated restaurant ordering system while ordering food through home delivery services.
In a ghost kitchen, customers usually browse through food delivery apps and pick one of the ghost kitchens to order the food of their choice. It may surprise you, but statistics show that ghost kitchens are currently worth approximately $40 billion worldwide.
The Difference between a Ghost Kitchen and Cloud Kitchen Is in Name Alone
A cloud kitchen is a delivery-only model that operates from your brick-and-mortar restaurant. However, it is a great way to expand your outreach and generate a new revenue stream in addition to your primary dine-in business. The best part is that a cloud kitchen does not need you to invest any capital overhead as you use the same equipment and staff working for you.
On the other hand, a ghost kitchen does not require you to open a restaurant to offer food. You can simply prepare food at hired commercial kitchen and deliver the food as per customers’ request. You integrate ghost kitchen software into your POS and start accepting orders to prep and deliver food to customers.
Are there Potential Branding Benefits between Dark Kitchen vs. Ghost Kitchen?
Now that you know the difference between a ghost kitchen and a cloud kitchen, the next logical question is the potential benefits both kitchens offer. Apart from the more obvious benefit of growing your brand and serving more customers to generate revenue, here are the two most important potential branding benefits.
Whether you run a dark kitchen or a ghost kitchen, you can enjoy being flexible by quickly adapting to the changing customer trends. For example, you can continue to serve your diner customers but offer some new cuisines through your dark kitchen. This will help you get customers’ feedback before introducing the dish to your dine-in menu.
A ghost kitchen allows you to lower your start-up cost and lets you offer food at a more competitive rate than other brick-and-mortar competitors in your area. This can help you establish your brand’s name in the area.
Tapping into Food Ordering Market Share
According to Statista, revenue in the online restaurant industry in the US will reach $28 million in 2021. Whether you run a dark kitchen or a ghost kitchen, you will be able to use any business model to easily capture your share of this growing market. All you need is to start your cloud kitchen and partner with food delivery apps.
If you are thinking about launching a virtual restaurant, then a ghost kitchen is your best option. This is especially beneficial if you do not have enough capital to buy or establish a restaurant with a physical premise.
You can start an independent restaurant or chain of restaurants by adapting a ghost kitchen model. This way, you can expand your brand’s outreach and serve customers in different locations and even different cities from remote locations.
If you are a restaurateur with an existing kitchen, you can leverage the dark kitchen model and offer additional services to boost your revenue stream. This way, you will not require any additional investment as you can leverage your existing resources, equipment, ingredients, and kitchen to cater to new online customers.
You can try both models to test out the concept and make your choice if you are unsure about which model would work for you. As an innovative restaurateur, you can leverage the virtual restaurant to grow your revenue and gain new customers.
In a ghost kitchen concept, you can partner with a third party and explore the turn-key restaurant concept. You let another party handle your branding, menu, marketing, and packaging through this model while you reap the benefits.
Ghost Kitchen vs. Virtual Kitchen: Reaching New Customers
Essentially, virtual kitchens and ghost kitchens are one and the same, with a few differences. However, a ghost kitchen operates from a centralized kitchen to serve a specific region. You may not have a physical presence for the customers to dine in, but you offer comfort as customers get to enjoy their favorite dishes in the comfort of their own homes.
As the pandemic lingers on, virtual and ghost kitchens will continue to prosper. However, the chances are that the trend of ordering food online will continue to persist in the post-COVID period.
Ghost kitchens and virtual kitchens are business models that are here to stay. Exploring any of these opportunities for your restaurant business will enable you to grow your business without any additional investment.
Whichever of these virtual kitchens you choose, GRUBBRR is here to help you. Our innovative solutions are specifically designed for full integration into the food industry and restaurant operations, and POS systems. For more info – Speak to our team today!