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How to Open a Ghost Restaurant

Monika Kamińska

Monika Kamińska - marketing and communication enthusiast, psychologist by education. For almost 20 years he has been working in areas related to marketing activities, customer path and decision making. Experience has taught her that the most important thing is efficiency. She boldly sets goals and implements them by choosing online and offline tools. Her passion is the analysis of customer behavior and content marketing.

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Past year was quite unusual. The pandemic hit really hard on most businesses. A lot of restaurants got shot down due to lockdown. The whole Covid-19 situation made a lot of people open ghost restaurants. Those kinds of restaurants are delivery-only foodservice businesses, that do not have dining areas or storefronts. They base on food deliveries and occasional take-outs. Most ghost kitchen restaurants team up with companies like UberEats, DoorDash or GrubHub, so that the food can be delivered to customers as soon as possible. 

Ghost restaurants are becoming very popular. More and more people decide to open a ghost restaurant instead of a brick-and-mortar one. Why? Last year was a huge unknown for all the traditional restaurants. Safety measures made us question the future of food establishments as well as some other businesses. The world is slowly going back to normal, but people are being careful. Of course, traditional restaurants are still in high-demand, but many people think that it is better and safer to open up a ghost restaurant – at least for now.

How to Start a Ghost Restaurant

Perhaps you used to own a restaurant but situation has changed and now you want to open something that is more cost-effective? We all know that opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant might be quite challenging and expensive. And if you feel like you want to re-enter the food business, you can start with opening a ghost restaurant.  Or – if you already have a restaurant – you can come up with a virtual restaurant business plan, that will help you obtain higher income from online orders.  But let us get back to ghost restaurants – you do not have to hire wait staff or customize the building for dine-in customers. You can definitely have less space, because all you need is a kitchen. The overall startup process is quite easy and simple. 

A lot of people think that starting a delivery-only restaurant is risky. Food business is very competitive. You can definitely succeed and make huge profits, but you need to do your best in order to satisfy your customers. Make sure to use fresh products and team up with reliable delivery services. If the food arrives cold or the food container gets mushed – then your food business might get a bad review. We know – it would not be your fault, but many customers links delivery services to restaurant’s performance. Make sure to monitor the delivery process if possible. 

Starting a Delivery-Only Restaurant

How to open a virtual restaurant? You definitely need a kitchen. Virtual restaurants often operate in kitchens of already existing brick-and-mortar restaurants. They create a special menu, available for online orders only. Ghost restaurants are slightly different. You will literally need just a kitchen space. The fact that you will not have to provide any seating area makes it all easier and definitely cheaper. Ghost restaurant also needs a business plan. You should plan a few things ahead. Remember that even though you will not have any guests dining in, you still need to follow all the necessary safety requirements and health regulations. What about location? Many people say that you can open your ghost restaurant anywhere you want, but it might be better to look for a space to rent that is located in the area surrounded by your target market. Finding an affordable space is also crucial. Your ghost restaurant does not have to be huge, but make sure there is enough space for your staff to move around. 

You should also plan your kitchen setup. Starting a delivery-only restaurant is cheaper that opening up a brick-and-mortar eatery, but you still need to buy all the necessary cooking equipment. There are many items that should appear in a commercial kitchen. Make sure to keep it nice and organized. 

Virtual Restaurant Business Plan vs Ghost Restaurant 

A lot of people want to know how to start a ghost restaurant. Is it profitable? Is it easy? They also want to know how to create a virtual restaurant that will bring large income. Every business starts with a plan, or at least it should. Virtual restaurants often operate together with brink-and-mortar restaurants. They use kitchens that already exist and offer a delivery-exclusive menus. What a great way to generate additional income, right? But when it comes to starting up ghost restaurants, there are few things that should be taken into consideration. Kitchen space and safety regulations should be your top priority. With ghost restaurant, you do not need much staff members. What is more, you do not need much furniture , because there will be no dining area.

Your business plan should include your target market. And after you find a perfect spot for your ghost kitchen, then you might want to do some research and see if there are any potential customers in that area. Moreover, you may want to mention the menu. You can reduce costs by introducing dishes that are made of similar ingredients. Do not keep too many items on the menu. Of course, you need to offer your customers different dishes but do not overdo with the list. Too many menu items might lead to food waste. Is seems like setting up a virtual restaurant requires less planning than opening up a ghost restaurant. Since you already have the kitchen, your virtual restaurant can kick off as soon as you figure out the menu and delivery options. Ghost restaurant will need a bit more planning.

What are the Benefits of Running a Ghost Restaurant?

Ghost restaurants are very flexible and they can quickly adapt to any new market trends. If you change your menu, add new items or decide to offer lunch specials – you will not have to print anything out, because everything is online. All you need to do is to make few changes across all platforms. Try different dishes, see which ones your customers like the most. What is more, running a ghost restaurant is definitely cheaper than running a regular brick-to-mortar eatery, because the operational costs are lower. 

Most traditional restaurants use POS system that helps them manage and run their food establishments more efficiently. The system assists them with keeping the inventory, creating work schedules, placing orders with vendors and more. No worries – starting a delivery-only restaurant does not mean you have to get a self-ordering kiosk but you might want to get a point-of-sale system that will definitely benefit your ghost restaurant. You need a system that can improve the general workflow of your business. 

Choose the Best Service Providers

A lot of your restaurant’s success will be based on delivery services. Customers get very irritated when they have to wait for too long for their order or if the food comes cold. They are quite upset when the order gets mixed up. This is why you need to choose your service providers carefully. Your reputation partially depends on delivery services, so make sure to team up with dependable companies. Remember that your customers will most likely never meet you, so the vision of your restaurant will be somehow based on their experience with the delivery guy. Of course, the food quality is also important, but the delivery service gives the first impression of the restaurant. 

Most ghost restaurants collaborate with third-parties like GrubHub, UberEats or DoorDash. Some restaurants have their own online website that is integrated to their POS delivery system, so they can take orders straight from their webpage without commission. Is running a ghost restaurant safe? It is quite hard to answer this question now, because many businesses have failed due to pandemic, and all the restaurants that are left are wondering what the future will bring them. We know one thing for sure – ghost restaurants are less risky than brick-and-mortar ones because of smaller opening costs.

How to Advertise Your Ghost Restaurant?

Ghost restaurants have no storefront; therefore, their marketing is happening online. Third-party delivery apps are full of different restaurants. Each business wants to be noticed. If you own a ghost restaurant, then you should come up with a marketing strategy as soon as possible. Social media platforms are very essential here. You might need to get paid ads as well. Ghost restaurants need online presence. Learn how to open a ghost restaurant, and then learn how to make your business visible. Your restaurant definitely needs a website with an online ordering platform. Make sure that your webs page is clear, informative and easy to navigate. There are multiple platforms that can help you build your own internet site. You do not need coding skills! You can choose your favorite template and customize it any way you want to. 

Starting a delivery-only restaurant is not that hard. But you must remember that you will not have the opportunity to meet your customers and amaze them with a beautiful restaurant interior or a pleasant atmosphere. Therefore; you have to rely on digital marketing and offer impeccable food. Use your social media channels to become visible. Attract customers with lunch specials or new menu items. Make sure to keep your social media platforms and your website updated at all times. You should post things quite frequently and use only high-quality images. Blurry photos are forbidden! Remember that a huge portion of your success relies on your marketing techniques. 

Monika Kamińska

Monika Kamińska - marketing and communication enthusiast, psychologist by education. For almost 20 years he has been working in areas related to marketing activities, customer path and decision making. Experience has taught her that the most important thing is efficiency. She boldly sets goals and implements them by choosing online and offline tools. Her passion is the analysis of customer behavior and content marketing.

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