With the advent of post-quarantine business strategies, the traditional restaurant model has practically become a thing of the past. Fortunately, entrepreneurs have adopted the renaissance of delivery-only restaurant services, known as ghost kitchens, into the changing market.
What is a Ghost Kitchen?
A ghost kitchen is a professional food preparation and cooking facility set up to make delivery-only meals. New York City, one of the most-affected areas during the pandemic, is currently experiencing a plethora of ghost kitchens popping up in various locations. Yet despite the innovation and creativity behind these services, some remain skeptical of their benefits. Does the advent of ghost kitchens spell disaster for traditional mom-and-pop restaurants? Or could ghost kitchens instead be a beacon of hope for existing eateries? Do they provide businesses with an option to adapt and avoid bankruptcy? Here’s our perception of the ghost kitchen and its future in New York City, as well as what the changing norm means for New York residents.
Pro- Anyone Can Enjoy Restaurant Food At Home
In 2018, Americans spent ten billion dollars on food delivery services. Over the past couple of years, the food delivery industry (especially services such as UberEats and Grubhub) has only been more successful. This success has reached a new height in 2020, since so many people continue to quarantine at home. A potential customer’s favorite meals are only a few clicks away on their phone. Customers don’t have to worry about crowds or unpleasant interactions between employees and unsatisfied guests. Not to mention, restaurants must use CDC-compliant practices which, while they keep customers safe, do take away from the classic dining experience. Ghost kitchens provide those with weaker immune systems, social anxiety, etc., with an easy solution for dining out. During this time of pandemic, customers can remain safe, support local restaurants, and enjoy delicious fare by ordering delivery. The era of the ghost kitchen could be here to stay.
Con- Traditional Restaurant Owners Could Suffer
According to one Ohio State study, 80% of restaurants will not make it past year five of business. The rise of ghost kitchens may harm conventional restaurants more than it could help them. For example, an elderly couple’s well-established restaurant may rely on the friendliness of their staff and the good experiences of their customers to stay in business. Taking away the sit-down option of their business may take away the very thing that sets their restaurant apart. Plus, ghost kitchens would require restaurant owners to change their real estate, division of labor, and marketing strategies, all of which are an overhaul of the original business model. Adopting temporary safety precautions could be less risky overall. There’s so much to learn about virtual food services, and some restaurateurs don’t have the time or resources to do so.
Where Ghost Kitchens Are Headed In New York
The short answer? Forward. Let’s face it- at least 60% of U.S. customers order delivery or take-out once a week. An easy, affordable strategy that facilitates ordering takeout is something that most Americans will inevitably embrace. Companies like Soho’s Zuul offer spaces and resources for restaurants to transition to ghost kitchen services. This means that food distributors will not only have the option to embrace this new model, but also which of the available models to pursue. Granted, New York politicians have expressed concern in how these new models will challenge time-honored eating places and their game plans, as well as the food safety risks which such a hasty transition could bring. Yet despite potential drawbacks, we remain optimistic about what ghost kitchens could bring to the people of New York. We hope that those who are intimidated by this new wave find ways to benefit from its expansion.