The New Normal – How Do Ghost Kitchens Work?

July 1, 2021
Industry Trends

Ghost Kitchens

Ghost kitchens existed before the pandemic, but really came into their own as options for survival during dining room closures. How do ghost kitchens work? A ghost kitchen is a restaurant that only prepares food for take out and delivery. Until recently it was most likely a temporary shift for an existing concept you were familiar before COVID. But now, with labor shortages and delivery as accessible as ever the concept of ghost kitchens seem to be around for the long haul. Large casual dining chains like Chili’s and Red Robin have both launched virtual concepts (It’s Just Wings and Donatos) utilizing their existing brick and mortar locations to quickly scale up a delivery and curbside to go operation in an adjacent food segment.

Either a ghost kitchen or virtual concept – these restaurants have the ability to run at full capacity while employing a minimal staff, enabling the restaurant to maximize profits with limited overhead and less friction with staffing limitations.  Pair this structure with technology, such as online ordering via delivery apps and a Ziosk Pro Tablet for on-site ordering and secure payment and these restaurants can run with only cooks and maybe one or two auxiliary employees – very attractive in today’s market.

Curbside Dining

Another post-pandemic trend, many restaurants implemented or perfected a curbside experience with dining room closures. Even with dining rooms back open, most at 100%, many people still want to continue to take part in a curbside experience. It gives the customer another option to enjoy food outside the dining room, without hefty delivery fees or with long wait times where food can get cold.  But to truly realize the benefit of this additional service, the restaurant must rely on some form of technology and current staff shortages only drive home this point in a stronger way.

Ziosk can play a part in several use cases: Having a Ziosk tablet at the curbside counter for on-site ordering and payment for those who want to come in.  Providing a team member a Ziosk Tablet Pro to take orders and payments at the car for those who need to stay inside their car. Or provide a designated parking area with assigned spaces and QR codes for a guest to order and pay from their mobile phone in their car.

Ghost Kitchen & Curbside Dining FAQs:

How can I find a ghost kitchen?

    Typically you won’t see a ghost kitchen other than on a delivery app, however some do have public facing brick and mortar locations that offer curbside ordering. These can be found wherever you find any traditional restaurant.

How do I know if a concept is a virtual restaurant?

    Most likely you won’t know unless you read an article about it or you choose curbside pickup and realize you are at a completely different restaurant brand.

What technology is used in a ghost kitchen?

    First and foremost, ghost restaurants will utilize an online ordering platform that links to the restaurants POS system and to delivery apps. Some ghost restaurants that offer curbside ordering will have a payment terminal, as well as a tablet to order, such as a Ziosk.

Do people prefer to order delivery or takeout through a 3rd party app or directly through the restaurant?

    According to data gathered in a March 2021
    Oracle Food & Beverage global study,
    78% of consumers would prefer to order directly from the restaurant rather than going through a third party. With rising delivery prices and marked up prices on 3rd party apps even for pickup, plus the communication gap that can occur when involving additional parties – it makes sense that consumers are willing to go directly to the source of their favorite restaurants for a superior curbside experience.

Do you have the technology in place to maximize your ghost kitchen or curbside offering? Ziosk can get you up and running quickly.

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