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Are ghost kitchens taking over the restaurant industry?

Are ghost kitchens shaping the restaurant industry in 2022?

ghost kitchens

Pre-pandemic, ghost kitchens were a bit of a mystery. A niche venture. Not many people even knew what they were outside of those in-the-knows of the restaurant industry.

But since the corona-crisis, ghost kitchens have become an important fixture with local food suppliers as well as food delivery platforms. We've also seen restaurants completely change their concept to accommodate a ghost kitchen model, double up as grocery store, or even turn their menu items into meal kits complete with to-go cocktails.

Euromonitor, a market research firm, recently estimated that ghost kitchens could be a $1 trillion business by 2030. That's a far cry from where they stood in 2019 when the global market size of ghost kitchens was valued at just over 40 billion. But just because the money is there, doesn't guarantee success.

Our partner over at Melt Shop has seen the highs and lows of working through the pandemic with brick and mortar locations as well as ghost-kitchen concepts. Spencer Rubin, CEO of Melt Shop said, “I don’t think there’s any brands that are successful in the long term by half-assing it, and I don’t think anyone who has their doors open in this environment right now is half-assing anything,” Rubin says. “People’s idea of quality and people’s ability to execute vary dramatically. Even though some people may be giving it 100 percent, it still may not be good enough for the market.”

But this is where ghost kitchens can take advantage of a partnership with another concept. Combining quality of food with quality of preparation.

Take Zuul for example. They rent kitchen space to restaurant businesses in Manhattan and work with both existing restaurants looking to expand and virtual concepts looking to launch. Zuul’s team spun up a virtual sandwich concept from idea to operations in two weeks. In its first week, Rival Sandwich Co. sold three times the amount of sandwiches Stone Bridge, its original parent company, was selling on its own.

According to Aaron Noveshen, CEO of the Culinary Edge consulting firm and founder of Starbird Chicken (ANOTHER Tattle partner), “By having multiple brands, we own a greater portion of digital real estate,” Noveshen says. “[With] five brands on an Uber Eats or a DoorDash, we can target a consumer who’s looking for a more specialized product. We can make that site highlight a full menu category.”

If it seems to you like everyone is getting into the ghost kitchen game, you're not wrong. More and more brands are starting to branch out and in case you hadn't heard, DoorDash more than doubled its valuation from $16 billion to around $38 billion as a result of the IPO in late 2020. As of last July, there were 1,500 ghost kitchens in the US, 750 in the UK, over 7,500 in China, and over 3,500 in India. That should tell you this trend, may not necessarily just be a 'trend' for much longer.

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