Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the globe earlier this year, dark kitchens were a growing niche in the restaurant industry- a concept that ran mostly through social media and food delivery platforms. However, due to quarantines, restrictions, and ever-changing regulations in the last few months, dark kitchens have experienced a surge in popularity and become an increasingly viable and sustainable business model.
What is a ghost kitchen? Ghost kitchens, also referred to as virtual, dark, or cloud kitchens, are revolutionary food service establishments that operate exclusively through online orders and delivery – eliminating the need for a physical storefront. By streamlining operations and eliminating traditional overhead costs, ghost kitchens provide an affordable solution for restaurant owners to concentrate on food production and efficient delivery services. Uber Eats, Glovo, and Just Eat are the largest platforms responsible for popularizing the concept by allowing virtual kitchens to present customers with many dining options.
Here are some of the top reasons to consider converting to a virtual kitchen:
1. Less Overhead
With dine-in options becoming less viable with each passing month due to lack of customers, it makes little sense to carry on with the high overhead costs of physically running a restaurant. By excluding dining room services, you save on staff and rent overhead expenses. Considering these two overheads are the largest expenses in the restaurant business, the decision to convert to a dark kitchen will drastically improve your business’s sustainability in the long run.
Running your restaurant business in a lean manner will also help you improve your chances if you’re a new business owner. Since you’ll be investing less, reaching the BEP (Break-Even Point) will be much quicker.
2. Further Reach
The money that you can potentially save by converting to a dark kitchen can help you further your reach to potential nearby areas, attracting even more customers. If you have your delivery personnel on standby, you can delight customers with speed and quality.
You can afford to buy special delivery boxes or storage gear that can help keep the warm food way past the average forty-five minute delivery time that is the usual standard. If you are reliant on third party delivery services, converting to a dark kitchen provides you with the perfect opportunity to set up your delivery operations. If you’re a new restaurant owner, you can potentially direct some of the overhead expenses into buying delivery vehicles and other necessary equipment.
3. Easier to Manage
Scrapping the dining room and staff also makes management a lot easier thanks to running the business digitally. The advantage of digital operations is that it allows for accurate record-keeping consistently and accurately. Every part of the process starts from receiving the order, passing it to the kitchen, and subsequent delivery results in digital record-keeping. Click here to learn more about dark kitchen technologies that make this possible.
The collected data can be used for many purposes, starting from streamlining your menu to improving your delivery service. You can also identify dining trends that can help you stay ahead of competitors by formulating innovative marketing strategies. All of these management benefits make dark kitchens appealing if you’re a small business with low personnel.
4. Multiple Concepts
One of the most significant advantages of a dark kitchen, which has led to its popularity in the first place, is the flexibility to combine multiple concepts. Eliminating the storefront expenses of running a restaurant allows for experimentations that will not run well with traditional restaurant concepts.
Creative and innovative concepts such as multi-brand dark kitchens, dark takeaway kitchens, aggregator owned dark kitchens; aggregator owned dark kitchens plus and outsourced dark kitchens are just a few of the most popular ones.
Some of these business models, such as the outsourced dark kitchens, allow you to outsource one or more steps of a restaurant process to third parties. Others, such as the aggregator, own restaurant brands, allowing entrepreneurs to open new branches in new cities without any physical outlet.
You can also focus on multiple cuisines from a single kitchen and market them through individual restaurant brands, increasing revenue opportunities. For example, you can opt for Indian, Thai, and Mexican cuisine and market them under three different brand names. The advantage is customers are more likely to order from a vendor specializing in a particular cuisine than a vendor claiming to specialize in all three.
Creating a Sustainable Future for Your Business
It continues to appear doubtful that strict safety protocols implemented due to the pandemic are going away anytime soon. If you’re part of the restaurant industry and bearing the brunt of this restriction, adapting to viable business strategies is the only way to sustain it. Converting to a dark kitchen will not only save you money during the pandemic but also ensure that when the situation returns to normal, you have enough capital to expand your business any way you see fit.