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Ghost Kitchens

Not so long ago, being called a “ghost kitchen” was not necessarily a kind reference. First used in 2015 in a network investigative report, the term was initially associated with early, delivery-only kitchens in New York City working off the grid with no formal inspections and no names or addresses that could be traced in the city’s database of restaurants. Literally, ghost facilities.

Today, ghost kitchens – sometimes called virtual, dark, shadow or cloud kitchens – are legitimate business models operating above board. Optimized for delivery or take-out, they have responded to the rapid growth and consumer demands for home meal delivery and other commercial requirements such as menu testing, meal prep, catering or added delivery capacity for restaurants not wanting to burden their existing facilities any further. The pandemic has only accelerated this growth to what is expected to be a trillion-dollar industry by 2030.

Whichever term you use to describe these commercial kitchen facilities, they are often well-appointed with all the amenities but have no dining space, retail storefront or wait staff. This usually translates to lower rents because they can exist in areas where location is much less critical. Further, many of these facilities handle the health department inspections, taxes, utility bills, equipment repairs and much more, resulting in meager overhead costs for the small business owner. For many culinary entrepreneurs, the reduced costs and low overhead present unlimited opportunities to leverage a ghost kitchen as they start new businesses.