It’s a typical Tuesday night and you have just arrived home after a long day’s work. After sitting down for a moment, you decide that you really don’t feel like cooking, so you pull out your phone, hop on DoorDash and order a chicken sandwich with a side salad. This scenario is played out by scores of Americans every day. In another version, you decide that you want to get a little fresh air and drive to the restaurant yourself. Imagine your surprise when you find out that you can’t go to the restaurant because it doesn’t physically exist. Welcome to the spine-tingling world of ghost kitchens.

A ghost kitchen, or cloud kitchen, is just what the name implies, a kitchen. There are several different kinds, but most are buildings that house a large kitchen that can be shared by multiple companies and don’t offer seating or a service window. The cost of real estate combined with lower in-store traffic and high fees charged by third party delivery services have hurt small and large restaurants alike. Ghost kitchens offer a way to offset some of those losses and lowers the barrier to entry for new concepts. There is no need to hire cashiers or servers to interact with customers. Restaurants don’t have to worry about installing drive-thru windows or making the décor look inviting to a guest. The large size of the kitchens allows companies to collaborate and it would not be strange to see Chick-fil-A Inc. and Del Taco Restaurants Inc. operating out of the same space. They are also used to create spinoff concepts without expending unnecessary resources. This is doubly helpful to a single restaurant owner who wants to test new concepts and offset delivery fees at the same time. Third party delivery companies have also thrown their hat in the ring and DoorDash has just opened its first commissary kitchen.

The flexibility of the ghost kitchen concept has been a boon for business owners, but it seems to have taken away an element of choice for the consumer. A diner may be disheartened to find that they are unable to visit their new favorite restaurant, but by the same token that particular restaurant could only survive as a ghost kitchen concept in that area. New and unique foods that could not survive in a typical restaurant setting will be put in the hands and mouths of consumers and it will be up to them to determine if ghost kitchens are ghastly or great. Ghost concepts will continue to develop in 2020 and they are at the heart of current innovation in the restaurant industry.

CSG provides verified contact information for key decision makers from thousands of restaurants that are opening new concepts and entering the cloud kitchen space. As more ghost kitchens populate the country, the need for supplies, equipment, and services will see an increase throughout the year. Sign up for CSG’s Chain Restaurant Premier database to start your marketing campaigns today.