In 2020, 35% of our existing restaurant clients moved to delivery-only - operating under the virtual kitchen model. Not surprising though, the pandemic had moved the industry in an unprecedented way and not long from now, all restaurants, including the food trucks, independent establishments, and even big retail giants would be compelled to expand using the concept of virtual kitchens.
Ghost Kitchen or Virtual Kitchen is not something that we weren’t aware of before the pandemic, just that the concept saw a rapid growth in demand as shutdowns became a norm around the world, with delivery being the only medium to keep the restaurant industry afloat.
Now that we’ve come to a point of acceptance, trying to find our way out of the adversity and refurbish the strategies to fit into the new normal, it’s turning out that virtual kitchens are finding home in every businesses’ annual growth strategy plans - but of course, with some hesitations owning to the myths that surround this model.
We decided to bust some myths around this instant-restaurant phenomenon and help you make an informed decision.
There seems to be a preconceived notion that restaurants set up in small spaces may not be as professional as the ones that we see in a full-fledged restaurant set up. The words “Dark”, “Ghost” or perhaps “Virtual” associated with this model project unregulated, a bit sketchy kitchens that may or may not even have standard equipment to deliver quality meals.
This is obviously not true!
Virtual Kitchen setups are as professional as any real kitchen. In fact, due to low overhead expenses, the owners of such establishments are able to invest in state-of-the-art equipment and tools that not only help the staff churn out innovative dishes, but in less time than what a regular restaurant kitchen would take. In fact, there are many companies that provide fully-equipped virtual kitchens with all necessary and modern equipment that a team of chefs would require to maintain the highest standards possible.
It’s no doubt that hygiene and sanitation are most important when it comes to food preparation, especially in today’s times when hygiene and safety have become the golden words for marketers across the food & restaurant industry.
Any business that deals with food are required to maintain a certain level of hygiene, regardless of whether the food is being prepared in a five-star facility or a ghost kitchen set up in a small apartment building. All establishments are required to attain Food Safety and Hygiene Certification before beginning operations, and most of the states conduct regular inspections to ensure that hygiene standards are maintained at all times.
Now with the looming Pandemic, throughout the industry, the kitchen staff is practicing social distancing and following hygiene habits such as covering mouths with N95 masks and wearing disposable gloves. Cloud kitchen operators have introduced a live body temperature tracker that provides customers with a live feed of body temperature checks for all those handling their delivery orders.
That is absolutely incorrect! If a popular brand like Panera Bread, for example, plans to expand to other locations to widen reach during pandemic times, it’s definitely going to target the hot spots of the city that is easily accessible to delivery personnel and consumers alike.
Restaurants cannot afford to locate themselves on the outskirts, it would not only cost them a lot of time and money to make each delivery but also affect the quality of food. When food travels a long distance it ends up cold, soggy food, and unappetizing which can lead to a bad customer experience.
Not at all. In fact, in the current market scenario, there are many companies that offer a full-fledged kitchen set up on a monthly subscription basis. From picking up the restaurant concept to leveraging the existing staff, Virtual Kitchen for Marketplace provides lucrative opportunities to create highly-profitable delivery-only brands without any added overhead cost.
All you have to do is design your menu, and move into the facility. Once you’re stocked up, you can start taking orders from different channels and prepare dishes on demand.
The pandemic further increased the need for and adoption of the concept with mass shuttering of dine-in and/or limited capacity.
Another important aspect of a successful virtual kitchen is to have a strong online presence, which would again not cost you a fortune if you partner with the right technology service. Restolabs’ basic plan starts at $45/per month/per store which not only provides a branded restaurant website but also advance features like Contactless Ordering, Curbside Pick up, Advance Ordering to match your customers’ expectations.
All in all, it shouldn’t cost you more than a few hundred dollars to get started with your first Virtual Kitchen.
It totally depends on a brand, whether or not it wants to offer takeaway service to its customers. There are many facilities that offer the flexibility of a takeout window or even drive-thrus. Considering the fact that takeout accounts for 35%-40% of the total revenue in the current scenario, if you wish to add off-premises to your service offering, you’d want to set up your virtual kitchen in a way that’s visible to your customers for a quick take away.
So here we are, debunking the most common myths around the Virtual Kitchen set up. We hope the information shared has been useful and will help you gain confidence in this thriving model.