The concept of a ghost restaurant is an innovative path to restaurant success in a sea of saturated markets and high rents. Entrepreneurs try out their ideas and receive honest feedback from their patrons without the burden of front of house, seating, and location costs. The feedback is used to make improvements, guaranteeing business longevity.
The best part about ghost restaurants is their flexibility with change. Everything, from the menu to the branding, is mobile until the owners know it will be successful. Setting up one of these eateries is not as complicated as starting a more traditional dining room focused food service business, but it does require a few steps and a great deal of knowledge.
Decide On The Type
There are three main categories under the ghost restaurant umbrella: the independent owner, the existing restaurants, and the delivery platform.
- An independent owner builds a brand from the ground, creating an online platform for customers.
- Existing restaurants may open a ghost restaurant to feature food not typically found on the brick-and-mortar menu. For example, an Italian restaurant might start serving tacos through their ghost restaurant, creating a new brand for the tacos not associated with the existing brand. The advantage is that the kitchen is already equipped for food preparation.
- The last type is the existing delivery platform. If a delivery platform already exists, it’s easy to branch out into other types of food. Simply create a new brand, link it to the online food service in existence, and start delivering a new type of cuisine.
Consider The Kitchen
The term ghost restaurant conjures up images of phantom cooks floating about with spatulas and tongs. While that’s a fun image, it’s far from accurate. Everything about the kitchen is real, including the high-quality cooking equipment and the cost of the space.
Some ghost restaurants are lucky enough to have investors that allow them their own kitchen space. Others, however, have banded together with other food delivery services to share their kitchen, therefore, sharing the bills. No matter how many brands are using the same space, it must be fully equipped with the right tools, serious cooks, and enough supplies to create the cuisine the customers want to eat.
Build A Marketing Plan
The success of the business rides on the back of the marketing plan. Create a plan to push the restaurant to online customers on an array of forums. Use word of mouth, social media, and a stunning website with images to attract customers to call for takeout. Remember, however, that local sourcing still plays a part, especially when feeding the public. Work with local farmers and gardeners to reap the benefits of the seasonal harvest. This boosts the local economy and attracts customers through the use of the freshest possible ingredients. Using local foods also allows for menu flexibility, as dishes can be created to utilize whatever is in season at the time.
Be Ready To Assess
A huge advantage to a ghost restaurant is its ability to be flexible. Be ready to assess what is selling, where it is selling, and how often it is selling. Perhaps the cajun dishes aren’t doing so well, but a certain vegan dish offered on special is sold out every evening. Redirect efforts toward more vegan foods to enjoy increased success. Be sure to watch the Internet for reviews, as well. Pay attention to comments on speed of delivery, freshness of food delivered, and menu items customers seem to enjoy the most. This will provide a sense of what’s working, and will dictate what direction to take to ensure business success.
Opening a ghost restaurant is far cheaper than traditional types, but it requires a different type of preparation. Create a menu, an online presence, and find a shared kitchen to get started in this exciting new pop up restaurant trend.