A dark kitchen is a term that encompasses professional commercial kitchens that only offer food delivery. Unlike traditional restaurants, a dark kitchen restaurant does not have a dining area and only requires the facilities and equipment to cook.

These kitchens are alternatively known as remote, virtual, cloud, or ghost kitchens. If you are thinking about a delivery-only food business, a dark kitchen startup is an ideal business model for you. 

Alternatively, if you are a brick-and-mortar restaurant looking for ways to increase your revenue, incorporating a dark kitchen business model into your current strategy can be helpful. The idea behind the concept is to help restaurant owners like yourself penetrate new markets and areas while keeping the same cost base.

5 Dark Kitchen Business Models

Here are the five dark kitchen business models that may help boost your brand awareness and revenue.

1. Traditional Dark Kitchen

In this business model, your brand owns a single restaurant kitchen, and you specialize in a specific type of cuisine and rely on a delivery app. A local restaurant that sells only Chinese food via delivery apps such as GrubHub or Doordash would be an example of a traditional dark kitchen. 

2. Takeaway Dark Kitchen

This concept has all the elements of a traditional dark kitchen and allows customers to wait in queues to collect their food orders. 

3. Multiple-brand Dark Kitchen

To bring down your operational cost, you can partner with other brands/restaurants to share a single kitchen. 

4. Aggregator-owned Dark Kitchen

Some food delivery app aggregation channels use the dark kitchen concept to offer empty kitchen spaces to the restaurant owners to rent. 

5. Outsourced Dark Kitchen

This is a recent addition to the cloud kitchen model, where you can outsource the cooking process before giving food any finishing touches yourself. 

Restaurant owner

Dark Kitchen Restaurants Are a Delicious Option for Entrepreneurs

The flexibility to offer different types of cuisines from a single kitchen is one of the main benefits of a dark kitchen restaurant. With the ongoing success of this restaurant model, you will most likely see more and more dark kitchen startup businesses emerging. According to a recent study, cloud kitchen market share is estimated to reach $112.7 billion by 2030. Therefore, dark kitchen restaurants are a lucrative investment option for entrepreneurs. 

Making the Most of What You Have

If you are an existing restaurant or food preparing business, you do not need to do much to dip into the dark kitchen business model. You can use an existing commercial kitchen and only start promoting your food delivery services in your desired area. This will increase your brand’s exposure and visibility. 

The customers will be able to use an automated restaurant ordering system online to request their favorite cuisine, while you will leverage a food delivery app to render the services. Furthermore, you will not require additional permits or licenses to promote or market your business or start delivering food. As long as you have your business license to operate a kitchen, you are golden!

Leniency with Compliance for Now

All food production businesses must follow the regulations and compliances set by the local health departments. However, because dark kitchen startup is relevantly a new concept, your local regulatory bodies may still be unfamiliar with the nitty-gritty of its design.

Nevertheless, it is critically important for you to understand any standard requirements set by local authorities for restaurants offering food without sit-in facilities.

The Dark Kitchen Startup Costs Are Minimal Compared to Traditional Restaurants

Dark kitchen startups are more cost-efficient than traditional restaurants. Here is why: 

Lowest Infrastructure Cost

Cost efficiency is one of the most obvious advantages of implementing a hosting kitchen business model. You can start a ghost kitchen with the lowest infrastructure cost possible. There is no need to invest in fancy doors, chairs, decors, or a well-suited staff member. You just need a food preparation area with equipment, and you are good to go. Overall

Low Overhead Costs

In a traditional restaurant setup, you will bear the cost of running a restaurant every day. Whether or not you make any sales, you will still have to pay for rent, electricity, gas, and staff salary. Since a dark kitchen restaurant does not need any of the above, you will be saving a substantial amount on your overhead costs. 

Man and a woman eating from take-out boxes.

Things to Consider Before Opening a Dark Kitchen Restaurant

There are several ways for you to open a dark kitchen restaurant.  However, first, you need to choose the dark kitchen business model you wish to go for. Whether you want to run your own ship or share a space with other virtual restaurants, you must keep the following elements in mind. 

Location, Location, Location

You must carefully choose the area to build your dark kitchen. Somewhere that has most of your customers within 3 miles of the kitchen or a place that is accessible to the majority of your customers (if you are offering takeaway service). 

Be thorough in your research on demographics, competition, and customers’ preferences in cuisines to make the best decision.

Using the Right Technology

This element is probably self-explanatory and relies on using the right technology, application, and dark kitchen software. Getting this right will empower your operations and offer maximum automation to your food delivery restaurant business. 

Dark kitchen software will  automate your food ordering as well as integrate your operations for maximum visibility and quick processing. Rather than using multiple panels to punch in orders staff receive, you will be able to use POS kitchen software to consolidate your order taking, order processing, payment, and food delivery information in a single system. 

This way, you will save money on labor to manage food orders. In a dark kitchen, a customer places an online order, your chefs receive it and prepare the food and send out an estimated delivery time to the customer. 

Marketing is still Needed

Dark kitchen restaurants also need branding and messaging just like traditional restaurants. However, you do not need a giant billboard in the city center; the best medium is to use your social media presence to promote your cloud kitchen services. 

You can also use email marketing to contact your existing customers and let them know that you now offer food delivery at home. This may be a very welcomed move for customers who miss your food but cannot make it to your restaurant more often. Your dark kitchen allows the customers to get online and get your favorite cuisine delivered to their doorstep.


The dark kitchen concept is a reality now, and bigger brands will certainly start incorporating this business model into their existing revenue generation strategies. However, no strategy is complete without an appropriate technological solution. 

From an automated restaurant ordering system to ghost kitchen software, GRUBBRR can offer you myriads of dark kitchen solutions. Speak to us about your restaurant needs and give your dark kitchen a competitive edge in the market.