The ghost kitchen model and ventless equipment top the list as key emerging trends. They have both revolutionized the way people eat and how food products are prepared and delivered.
At the inaugural Pecinka Ferri Ghost & Ventless Kitchen Forum slated for November 16, they will take center stage. The highly anticipated event will present an overview of the concepts, planning, development, and execution necessary to be successful in this space. The event will include breakout sessions, experts, live cooking, and more. “I had this idea for a while now, to bring folks together of like minds in the industry to define what a ghost kitchen is, what it requires in terms of appliances, marketing, real estate, and menu development. We thought this event would be a good place for us to clarify what this space entails and what is necessary to be successful,” noted Pecinka Ferri co-principal Joe Ferri.
Among the key topics will be the different dynamics to consider for a ghost kitchen opposed to a typical dine-in restaurant. “Operators are able to work in considerably smaller spaces without the overhead costs of a parking lot or dining room, Ferri continued. It’s not uncommon for one kitchen to be cooking for several different brands with a wide variety of menu types. We are seeing incredible flexibility and adaptability from chefs in these ghost kitchens. To make them work, it requires a fresh new look at the equipment in the kitchen.”
Highlights include an overview of the ventless revolution from Middleby’s Scott Heim. An 11 am keynote by Nathan’s Famous Senior Vice President James Walker. In addition, Chef Chris Galarza of Forward Dining Solutions will discuss Sustainability Through Electric & Ventless, BYOB Bagel’s Beth George will share her story with a session on Building Bagel Businesses One Entrepreneur at a Time. David Richer of Orbital Kitchens will take Pecinka Ferri attendees up close and personal with How to Start Ghost Kitchens from Scratch.
The bridge between the ghost kitchen and ventless cooking concept has come from a changing real estate marketplace. “There are many prime pieces of real estate that have become available for the first time to house either a ghost kitchen or traditional restaurant model,” Ferri explained. “Ventless cooking in many cases enables space that couldn’t be considered for cooking to create new profit opportunities for the creative restaurateur and foodservice operator.”
Ventless equipment provides flexibility for an industry that has experienced incredible stress and change this past year. Not only does this equipment make cooking operations easier, cleaner, and safer, it also offers a unique flexibility to operators. Under-utilized spaces or buildings without the proper ductwork to accommodate standard hood systems can now be used to develop ghost kitchens with ventless equipment installations. These appliances are not permanently installed and may be relocated if necessary, reducing cost in the moving process.
“The portability of the equipment is revolutionary. It doesn’t become part of the structure so it falls into a completely different tax situation. There are incredible benefits to having portability. Operators can identify absolutely any venue and turn it into a commercial food outpost without having to search for ventilated spaces which in many cases simply doesn’t exist urban areas,” remarked Ferri.
“Ghost kitchens are centered on the de-coupling of production and fulfillment. I believe the work that needs to be done is on the fulfillment end, the biggest question being the delivery component,” stated Ferri. Typically ghost kitchens are located on the outskirts of cities, the location criteria being close enough to population centers without increasing expenses. Ferri suggested that those gaining success in this restaurant industry realm are those who have found a solution to transportation such as using third party companies like Grubhub and UberEats.
The Pecinka Ferri Ghost Kitchen and Ventless event will bring industry professionals to the company’s test kitchen to unveil strategies on maximizing food quality in a ghost kitchen operation. “The pandemic has raised the bar with minimum quality no longer being sufficient for customers. The days of getting away with soggy fries and an average burger are simply no longer acceptable. The pandemic forced many restaurants to adopt take-out and delivery services, so customers have grown accustomed to higher quality take-out meals, as well as the increased quality of microwavable meals one can pick up at the supermarket. “You’re competing with more than the night out,” stated Ferri. The food quality must be maintained, if not increased, to keep customers interested. This will be reliant on the quality of the equipment in ghost kitchens.
Major advancements continue to be made for ventless equipment. The forum will offer attendees a chance to see such latest advancements. “We will have a kitchen set up with a team of chefs cooking live. We’re working on details of a piece that is garnering a lot of excitement,” expressed Ferri.
Although the Ghost Kitchen concept has been accelerated due to the pandemic, Ferri believes its popularity will continue. “People have grown accustomed to delivery and takeout services, and if the quality and efficiency of these products continues to increase with the usage of ghost kitchens and ventless equipment, customers will be willing to pay for that convenience. This forum is the next step in our coming together as an industry to build a common vision for furthering these concepts.“
Complimentary tickets for the Fairfield, NJ event are available on the Pecinka Ferri website or by calling (973) 812-4277