If you operate a restaurant or another foodservice business in Vancouver, you may have heard of a growing trend called “ghost kitchens”.
Ghost kitchens are a low-cost option for expanding your business’s reach into a larger geographic area.
In this post, we are going to introduce you to the ghost kitchen concept. We will then tell you how we can help you construct or renovate a space to serve as a ghost kitchen for your business.
If you are not yet familiar with ghost kitchens, you may be looking for a basic definition. What is a ghost kitchen?
The simplest description of a ghost kitchen is a commercial kitchen without an attached restaurant. There is either no retail component or a limited retail component, depending on the business model.
You may also hear ghost kitchens referred to at times as “dark kitchens,” “cloud kitchens,” or “virtual kitchens.” Sometimes they are called “headless restaurants.”
Ghost kitchens are arguably the most significant innovation in the restaurant industry since DoorDash and similar delivery services were created.
COVID-19 lockdowns and customer concerns resulted in many empty tables at traditional dine-in restaurants during 2020 and 2021.
Nevertheless, customer demand for restaurant food did not cease. Diners simply were looking for a safer way to enjoy their favorite cuisines at home.
At the same time, restaurant businesses needed to pioneer ways they could reduce their operating expenses to survive.
As a result, alternative food service models such as ghost kitchens have thrived. Opening ghost kitchens allows food services to produce and distribute their products without the overhead of running additional restaurants.
Ghost kitchens have surged in various urban centers in the US since 2020. We also are seeing large national brands signing on with groups that are opening cloud kitchens.
All told, ghost kitchens have been an amazing expansion and revenue driver for restaurants and foodservice businesses during the massive downturn we have seen during COVID-19. It has been a complete game-changer now that consumer behavior has changed.
Even if restaurant dining returns to earlier levels going forward, many of the advantages of operating a ghost kitchen in terms of expansion of services and reduction of costs will remain. As a result, we expect the ghost kitchen to be a permanent fixture in the foodservice industry.
If you operate a restaurant with a main location in a downtown center, and you are now providing increased delivery service to a nearby suburban area, you can open a ghost kitchen in that area.
You will then be able to rapidly deliver fresh food in that neighborhood, but you do not need to deal with the costs or logistics of a second restaurant.
Opening a ghost kitchen may also be part of the process of starting up a business that sells its food products online, but will not be running a brick-and-mortar storefront at any point.
We typically encounter two different types of ghost kitchens. They are either:
1. A large commissary type of kitchen where as many as ten or more brands operate out of a single shared structure. Customers can order ahead, then drive up and pick up at a counter, or the brands can run a delivery service from that location.
2. You may own a restaurant or chain of restaurants, and you simply want to expand your delivery zone. To do so while minimizing overhead costs, you may open an individual ghost kitchen from which only your company operates.
Each type of ghost kitchen has advantages and disadvantages that business ownerswill need to assess before deciding on a concept.
If you think a ghost kitchen might help you take your Vancouver food service business to the next level, Mercury Contracting can help.
With our extensive background in the commercial kitchen and restaurant construction business, expanding into ghost kitchens was a natural progression of our services.
We can collaborate with you on:
• Concept development
• Brand development
• Locating an appropriate site for your venue
• Structuring your space for food prep and (if applicable) retail
• Kitchen design and layout
• An overall construction plan
• The construction itself
Additionally, we help with project management, coordinating between you, the city, and your architects, engineers, and other professionals.
As with restaurant projects, when it comes to building ghost kitchens, assembling the right team of professionals is crucial.
We have established professional relationships with local businesses throughout the Vancouver area and can connect you with the resources you need to move your project forward.
We are currently working with several groups in the area on ghost kitchen concepts. We see this as a trend that is only going to continue to grow in the Vancouver Lower Mainland area.
Mercury Contracting is your turn-key solution for this groundbreaking concept of food production and delivery. If you are ready to seize on this exciting opportunity, or if you have questions about ghost kitchens or our industrial construction process, please contact us.