The COVID-19 pandemic promoted a significant shift in the restaurant industry. As the world shut down, eateries could not serve customers in their dining rooms. More people ordered take-out and delivery meals to reduce their reliance on home cooking.

Restaurants required all hands on deck during the lockdown to meet consumers’ needs. Many small businesses relied on ghost kitchens to support take-out advancements. Individuals are capitalizing on this sector and facilitating successful alterations in the food-service industry.

Assess the Market

Entrepreneurs must study the market before starting a ghost kitchen. Researchers recognize increased demands in delivery services across all industries. Individuals experienced the advantages of online ordering during the pandemic and continued doing so after the lockdown.

Meal prep kits are also gaining traction on the market. Ghost kitchens can support companies like Hello Fresh as they continue expanding. The demand for restaurant take-out services is also growing.

Market analysts expect the online food industry to grow exponentially by 2024. Investing in the industry by opening a ghost kitchen company has various benefits. People can access the advantages by following eight steps.  

1. Create an Optimized Delivery Menu

The first step in opening a ghost kitchen is creating an optimized delivery menu. Companies must focus on preparation time, food temperature, meal quality and taste when developing menu items.

Individuals should also consider the cost of ingredients when building recipes. Chefs can create an affordable menu by using similar components in different meals. Professionals may save money by purchasing ingredients in bulk to maximize their profits.

2. Select a Kitchen Location

Business owners can build ghost kitchens anywhere because they rely on delivery services. Individuals may save money on rent by developing their kitchens in less appealing buildings. They can also save more on startup costs by paying less for signage.

Ghost kitchen owners should consider their distance from top customers before signing a lease. They can reduce their transportation costs by building their businesses near their clients and marketing to other establishments in the area.

3. Invest in Quality Equipment

There are many pieces of equipment that make up a profitable cooking space. People building a kitchen must assess the efficiency of their equipment and the building.

Many ghost kitchen owners install Energy Star refrigerators and freezers to reduce waste. The temperature control components use 9 percent less energy than conventional appliances. They also leave smaller carbon footprints, which improves their eco-consumer appeal.

Individuals can also purchase rolling sheet tray carts to improve efficiency levels. Bakers racks and other carts provide optimal mobility and help professionals transport food around the kitchen with ease. They also reduce the number of trips from the kitchen to delivery trucks, which improves transportation times.

Owners may also invest in gas stoves to improve food quality by monitoring temperature changes. Gas stoves also increase a ghost kitchen’s resilience during power outages by minimizing production limitations. Individuals can further enhance a kitchen’s longevity and stability by investing in durable pots, pans and utensils.

4. Choose a Delivery Method

One of the most essential components of a ghost kitchen is its delivery method. Some business owners use in-house services, while others rely on third-party apps. Economic researchers are exploring the benefits of each delivery method.

Many business owners experience financial limitations when using third-party delivery services. Companies like Grubhub and UberEats charge restaurants and ghost kitchens nearly 30 percent of an orders’ price as a commission fee. Over time, the extra costs add up and cause financial constraints.

In-house delivery services require a larger staff, which may be challenging to manage. Researchers believe delivery co-ops can provide an affordable solution to food transportation challenges. The co-ops help ghost kitchens and drivers make more money without using an intermediary.

5. Set Menu Prices

Ghost kitchen entrepreneurs should set reasonable menu prices that factor in more than ingredient costs. Individuals must know their monthly rent and utility expenses before establishing prices.

They should also explore the minimum wage in their region to create a reasonable salary for employees. Ghost kitchen owners can pay their workers above minimum wage to support high employment rates. Business owners can set affordable item prices that ensure profitability after exploring the different operating costs.

6. Develop High Health and Safety Standards

There are various health and safety guidelines workers must follow to create a thriving work environment. Individuals may establish training programs and post signs around their kitchens to inform employees of necessary hygiene practices. Workers should always wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap before handling food.

They should also wash raw fruits and vegetables before cutting them to prevent the spread of germs. Kitchen owners can additionally promote safety measures by labeling different utensils’ uses. They should keep separate cutting boards, knives and plates for seafood, raw meat, uncooked eggs and poultry.

Keeping thermometers accessible around a kitchen is also essential. Poultry must reach 165 degrees165 before chefs serve or package meals. Beef, fish, pork and lamb must reach 145 degrees to ensure consumers’ safety.

7. Higher Experienced Staff Members

Hiring staff members is one of the biggest challenges ghost kitchen owners face. There should be at least one chef present in a kitchen at all times. A couple of sous chefs can assist the head cook by building plates and preparing specific ingredients.

A kitchen may also need inventory specialists, dishwashers and packaging professionals. Transportation employees can help delivery workers load their vehicles and move meals out of the kitchen without disturbing the chefs.

8. Apply Virtual Inventory Technology

Ghost kitchens can use smart technology to reduce food waste and improve their savings. The devices use the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor energy absorption and increase efficiency.

One inventory device takes photos of ingredients in a kitchen and tracks expiration dates. The system analyzes a kitchen’s general food waste production and proposes realistic solutions. Artificial intelligence (AI) advancements can increase kitchens’ profitability by improving conservation.

Who Should Start a Ghost Kitchen?

Ghost kitchens can function independently or support storefront restaurants to meet rising delivery demands. Both sectors may benefit from following the market trends. Individuals considering starting ghost kitchens should invest soon to access optimal financial advantages.

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. She has over five years experience writing for the food and beverage industry.

Outside Insights, Restaurant Operations, Story