A ghost kitchen can be a super profitable business, both on its own or as a valuable addition to an existing restaurant. Across the US, ghost kitchens are becoming more and more common in the restaurant sector, as they allow for easy food delivery, whether you operate a sit-down restaurant as well or not.
According to a webinar hosted by market research firm Euromonitor International, ghost kitchens have the potential to become a $1 trillion worldwide market. China currently leads the pack with 7,500 ghost kitchen sites, followed by India with 3,500, and the US with 1,500.
In North Texas, ghost kitchens are becoming ever-increasingly popular, so it’s time to jump on the bandwagon!
Restaurants that exclusively deliver food to consumers are known as ghost kitchens. Ghost kitchens commonly have a licensed food production room, or industrial kitchen, as well as an area for food delivery service personnel to pick up customer orders.
Online ordering is often used by ghost kitchens to secure a cashless transaction system, which can lower overhead expenses and enhance delivery efficiency. Virtual restaurants, cloud kitchens, and dark kitchens are all alternative terms used in the restaurant industry to refer to ghost kitchens.
A ghost kitchen’s principal duty is to prepare and package meals for delivery via their own delivery service or using a third party such as DoorDash or UberEats.
Ghost kitchens can be set up by existing brands, as demonstrated by Wow Bao. Wow Bao, a popular bao restaurant in Chicago, also sells its popular menu items – dumplings, bao buns, etc – online via their “dark kitchen”. This is an example of an already operational restaurant that delivers its dishes as a side business.
Nevertheless, many ghost kitchens operate as “virtual” companies. There’s no place for a client to walk in and purchase something off the menu, nor are there any waiters or cashiers to serve the food. Instead, there’s often just a kitchen and a place to store packaged meals for delivery. This kind of ghost kitchen is particularly profitable in high-rent areas, where the need for pricey restaurant space is reduced, while local demand is met for popular dishes.
The best thing about ghost restaurants is how adaptable they are to change. Everything is flexible, from the menu to the branding. It can be much simpler to open this type of eatery compared to a more typical dining room-focused food service business. However, setting up a ghost kitchen does require that you follow a few crucial steps and obtain some specialized knowledge. You’ll need plenty of guidance if you want to learn how to operate a ghost restaurant in Texas. We all know that feeding Texas appetites takes courage, but it takes even more to put together a great business strategy, identify your dream location, and get all the permits and licenses you’ll need to operate lawfully in the State.
Interested in setting up your own ghost kitchen? Check out these easy-to-follow steps.
There aren’t a lot of business plan templates for starting up a ghost kitchen, so you may need to get creative when looking for resources. Seek advice from teams who have been there, done that, and learn from their successes (and mistakes!).
With a ghost kitchen, you need to worry as much about location and ambience, which means your menu is really what’s going to be the star of the show. Who are you competing against? How will you stand out? How will you make your food to-go friendly?
These are the concepts that will make a difference with your ghost restaurant – excel in them and you’ll beat the competition!
When considering where to set up shop, so to speak, the location may not matter as much since customers won’t be physically coming to you. But you do need to think about spaces that are suitable for cooking, whether it’s an existing kitchen space that you rent, a shared space, or your own facility. If there are going to be multiple vendors using the space, will there be ample room for comfortable cooking conditions and the supplies you need to start operation? You’ll also need to think about insurance coverage and safety inspections, among other things.
These days, many individuals prefer to do their shopping online, which has led to a decline in shopping malls. Despite this, in Texas, shopping malls are making a comeback in an unexpected way. Empty retail stores in malls are being taken over by ghost kitchens! Malls are ideal locations for setting up a ghost kitchen, as they are usually situated in high-traffic areas, making them a convenient place for pick-up and delivery.
Once you’ve established your concept and brand, you’ll need to form a marketing plan with a heavy digital focus. Social media, digital ads, and a polished website will all help with this effort.
If you’ve got your heart set on launching a restaurant but are worried about the up-front investment, or if you’re in the business but want to give this up-and-coming concept a spin, the ghost kitchen model just might be for you.
The standards for business and food service licenses for ghost kitchens may differ from those for dine-in venues, depending on municipal and state authorities. Ghost kitchen managers usually have a business license and food service license, which they can obtain from their local or state licensing body. They may also hold a ServSafe Food Handler or Food Manager Certification, indicating that they’ve passed the National Restaurant Association’s fundamental food safety training. They may also be required to produce proof of license and certification in order to rent a commercial cooking space.
Consulting a lawyer can be very useful during this process. A lawyer will be able to advise on the complexities of your business structure based on your long-term goals and demands. It’s not recommended to skip this step to save money; instead, think of it as an investment in the long-term health of your company, so you can run it efficiently and without surprises come tax season.
Ghost restaurants should use several marketing methods to ensure they reach a wide range of potential customers. This concept is explained in more detail in our article about starting a mobile food truck business in Texas.
As ghost restaurants lack a physical location, they need to create a relationship with potential and existing customers through a brilliant menu and excellent delivery. Marketing via social media and any other available avenues is how to make this possible.
You can send out direct mailings with scannable coupons or promotional codes to residents within your delivery radius. It’s also a good idea to use social media ads and engage with users to promote the opening of a ghost kitchen.
In recent years, the number of ghost kitchens has significantly increased throughout the United States. The sector was worth $336 billion in 2019, and according to current projections, it’s anticipated to quadruple to $972 billion by 2026. In other words, it could be said that opening a ghost kitchen is one of the most financially lucrative entrepreneurial pursuits you can currently undertake in Texas! It can be done as part of an expansion of an existing walk-in restaurant, or you can start with a ghost kitchen and expand to a walk-in later. It’s up to you to take advantage in whichever way suits you!