Imagine a virtual food court - The 'Ghost Kitchen,' also known as a cloud kitchen, has nothing to do with restless spirits.  The Ghost Kitchen is a 21st-century foodservice innovation that promises to deliver more sales and optimize and expand delivery service at a minimal cost. In this article, you will learn what exactly a ‘ghost kitchen’ is, why they are popping up worldwide, and how it fits into the future of foodservice.

Think of them as a co-working space for restaurants. ‘Ghost kitchens’- also known as virtual kitchens- strip down the traditional restaurant locations by removing space for customer seating and brand décor and virtual host brands, meaning they do not operate with a brick-and-mortar location. Virtual brands are delivery only food concepts that are sold online and through delivery apps.

The Food for these virtual brands is prepared by Ghost kitchens who operate exclusively to produce for virtual brands. These large commercial kitchens are capable of hosting multiple restaurants under one location. You have probably heard of DoorDash. For example, Doordash has recently launched a shared ghost kitchen with four diverse restaurants, all using the same space. But why Ghost kitchens? Is this a passing trend or a glimpse into the future of foodservice?


The Back-of-house Ghost kitchen

Sometimes called ‘dark-kitchens,’ some restaurants do not look to outsource their delivery-only experience. These types of ghost kitchens are existing restaurants that run delivery-only concepts directly inside their existing locations. These restaurants can serve the in-house and online sides of their business as two separate operations.  


The Rented, food court style kitchen

This is what most people are referring to when they refer to Ghost Kitchens. This model rents a shared kitchen space between 10-20 delivery-only restaurants. Restaurants each rent their own space and serve their customers all under one roof.  



Foodservice vs. COVID-19

The COVID-19 conversation in foodservice centers mainly around the impact of government-mandated shutdowns and the effect they continue to have on restaurants. At the same time, however, individual members of the supply chain that support restaurants and other foodservice operators continue to deal with unique and challenging circumstances. Government-mandated shutdowns and public fear of health safety have had a massive impact on restaurants and the foodservice industry.


Saving costs & Contactless service

People need food, and they do not always want to cook it themselves. Delivery options have opened a new channel to target new customer segments, as restaurants no longer rely on foot traffic to survive. These challenging circumstances have created greater demand for food vendors to offer contactless service and delivery right to your door. Most restaurants lose money when using delivery apps, to adapt, innovations and new trends such as ghost kitchens are emerging.



Ghost kitchens are an excellent invention for dining companies that allow businesses to cut their operating costs dramatically. Businesses can now operate without the need for multiple walk-in locations and streamline their operations by eliminating customer dining. The initial investment in opening a large ghost kitchen is significantly less than building an entire dine-in restaurant.


Customer control

Ghost kitchens do not only benefit the businesses they host, but customers love them too! They allow customers to order different food styles from a combination of restaurants, and their items- if they are under the same ghost kitchen- can be delivered to their door all at the same time. Modern customers want personalization and convenience. According to Forbs, the food delivery service industry is worth 24 billion in the next year. More and more customers are opting to eat in the comfort of their own home. Over recent years the numbers for in-restaurant dining have stayed flat, while digital orders by 20% every year. Most ghost kitchens use cloud-based mobile ordering, which means customers can personalize what they want and get specific meals made to order.



Overall, ghost kitchens are restaurants without a dining space or storefront. This foodservice innovation has been especially popular as restaurants have had to go contactless due to Covid-19 and needed to reinvent the wheel when it came to dining. Ghost kitchens host multiple virtual delivery brands all under one kitchen. Due to delivery services rise in demand, this new cost-effective way to service delivery has emerged and is here to stay.