The food industry has witnessed a significant wave of change, thanks to the evolving choices of people and the expansion of technology. There are now more takers for virtual brands than ever before, and the number only seems to grow every day. Amid this unmissable bloom, it is vital to get your basics right about a ghost kitchen and virtual restaurant. So, here’s a blog to ease you through the concept.
In the last few years, there has been a remarkable shift in the dining preferences of people across the world. A lot of it has to do with the advancing technology and the rise of third-party on-demand food delivery platforms. At the same time, the pandemic is also one of the reasons that made people stay home and order food online.
The boom in this order-in culture, in turn, accelerated the growth of virtual brand restaurants. The one that only exists digitally and delivers the food you order in a stipulated amount of time. Such kinds of setups are widely known as ghost kitchens, cloud kitchens, and virtual restaurants. While many use these terms interchangeably, there is a substantial difference between a ghost kitchen and a virtual restaurant. What that is, let’s find out the difference between ghost kitchen and virtual restaurant.
Table of Contents
What are Ghost Kitchens?
Ghost kitchens are commercial cooking places that offer a carefully curated delivery-only menu to their target consumers. Think of it as a professional kitchen that has no storefront to host customers.
Unlike the brick-and-mortar restaurants, you don’t have to invest in a spacious place at a prime location, attractive interiors, worry about parking, and an army of food staff. Instead, it can be easily set up in small commercial kitchen space or on shared third-party premises alongside other virtual kitchens. What’s more? Such shared spaces often provide you with all the necessary cooking equipment and setups, making your job even easier.
Ghost kitchens are also referred to as virtual kitchens, dark kitchens, and cloud kitchens.
What are Virtual Restaurants?
A simple definition of a virtual restaurant would be a delivery-only model of an existing restaurant. Let’s say you already own a restaurant and want to introduce another cuisine to your customers. Starting new restaurant brands would be too expensive, time-consuming, and hectic. That’s when you can opt for a virtual restaurant that runs out of the same kitchen as your existing, traditional restaurants.
Think of it as a digital-only storefront of your current restaurant that serves the customers with its delivery-exclusive menu. You prepare the food in your delivery-only restaurants with no added investments and overheads. Customers order the food on an online ordering platform, and you deliver it through third-party food delivery apps.
What Makes Ghost Kitchens Different From a Virtual Restaurant?
The key difference between ghost kitchens and virtual restaurants is that the former may not have its brick-and-mortar counterpart at all. A ghost kitchen can solely exist on the digital platform with no pick-up or drive-in offering. The only way to order food from them is through the websites or apps of their food delivery partners.
Virtual restaurants, on the other hand, also have a digital-only presence. But they cannot exist if you do not have at least one brick-and-mortar restaurant in the first place. That is because the kitchen of your virtual restaurant operates within the kitchen of your traditional outlet, offering a distinct menu of delivery-only food items. A virtual restaurant would thus become an added revenue stream for your primary restaurant’s existing business model, bringing in a whole new set of customers.
Since both the concepts are unique, the advantages they put on the table are different too. Let’s explore them in detail.
Benefits of Ghost Kitchens
Quicker set up
With access to a professional cooking facility loaded with all the necessary kitchen equipment, you can start ghost kitchens in a matter of only a few weeks.
Limited start-up cost
Since there is no need for a spacious place or plush decor, the start-up investment for ghosts kitchens is much lower than a traditional restaurant.
The overhead expenses in a ghost kitchen are lower than your traditional brick-and-mortar kitchen with only limited staff or chefs, rent, and day-to-day food costs of kitchen operations to take care of.
It is simpler to adapt to evolving food choices of your target diners through a ghost kitchen as you can try & test multiple cuisines from a single setup. You can also introduce multiple concepts from the same kitchen to cater to a diverse customer portfolio.
Benefits of Virtual Restaurants
Optimization & diversification
With a virtual restaurant, you get to build upon the success of your in-operation restaurant by introducing diversity in your casual dining menu offerings. That helps retain your present customers and appeals to new ones as well, optimizing your overall returns.
Since you can run your virtual restaurant from your existing kitchen, there are no extra expenses on a new location, equipment, supplies, or staff.
With its unique food offering, a virtual restaurant opens up an additional channel of consistent revenue to your ongoing restaurant business at no exorbitant cost.
Ability to experiment with new concepts
From trying out new dishes to starting special meal hours, experimenting with your virtual brand is hassle-free, cost-effective, and less risky.
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What Should You Choose: A Ghost Kitchen or Virtual Restaurant?
If you are a first-time food entrepreneur with no access to an existing kitchen of a brick-and-mortar restaurant, it is best to go with a ghost kitchen strategy. As we explored, it packs in limited investments, resources and is faster to launch.
For a seasoned entrepreneur with one or more chain restaurants, starting a virtual restaurant proves to be a fruitful decision. It lets you leverage your existing resources at optimum capacity to offer a fresh menu and capture new markets without going overboard with your budget.
That said, you can start a ghost kitchen even when you are successfully running your traditional restaurant. Doing so is rewarding, especially when you want to capture consumers in a different geographical area.
With a significant shift in people’s dining preferences in the last few years, the restaurant industry is reinventing itself to stay relevant. The soaring popularity of virtual restaurants and ghost kitchens is a testimony of that.
Now that you’ve got the difference between the two, it would be easier to choose the one fitting your unique needs. However, thorough market research and strategic planning are needed to yield the best results.
So, if you are planning to enter the ghost kitchen market and run your own food delivery services, then you need to adopt a solution that helps you plan multiple deliveries without much hassle. And Upper Route Planner software does that.
This route planner software helps you plan multiple routes in just a few minutes and saves you hours of planning time and fuel cost. Start your free trial today and experience how it helps your business.