Restaurants will use virtual brands and ghost kitchens to operate efficiently — and grow.
Concepts and brands created specifically for online ordering will likely continue to grow in 2022, thanks to the popularity of online ordering channels and diners’ everyday interest in takeout. They can also be helpful to a restaurant’s bottom line.
“Hiring crises, supply chain complications, and an ever-evolving reopening process have restaurants taking steps to become more efficient in their operations,” said BentoBox’s Mobayeni. “They’ve responded by increasing prices and streamlining menu items, but also adopting low-overhead ghost kitchens. The past year has proven that ghost kitchens are an impactful concept when an established brand is paired with a high-quality digital storefront.”
It’s true: a recent report in the Wall Street Journal noted that restaurant menus are getting smaller, in large part thanks to operational challenges like staffing. At the same time, ghost kitchens and virtual brands are proliferating — BentoBox reported a 100 percent increase in the number of ghost kitchens using its platform this year. On Yelp, 5,000 businesses have self-identified as virtual restaurants, and searches for ghost kitchens on the platform are up 325% this year.
This data suggests that more restaurants are adopting virtual brands or expanding to ghost kitchen facilities that prepare to-go orders to supplement their traditional operations. This could also lead to big changes in the way restaurants use their kitchen space.
“I think the probability of having multiple concepts playing out in the same kitchen is rapidly increasing. The idea of ‘many-in-one’ kitchens is something that we already see overseas and I anticipate the trend to catch on quickly in the United States in the near future,” said Solar. “While this definitely means more ghost kitchens, it also means higher utilisation of existing kitchens with brick and mortar storefronts.”