So what do you know about ghost kitchens? No, this isn’t the next upcoming horror movie franchise. In fact, you may have ordered one today without even realizing it if you are someone who frequented food delivery apps during the pandemic.
Here are five things to know:
What is a ghost kitchen?
A ghost kitchen (also known as a delivery-only restaurant or virtual kitchen) is a professional catering and cooking establishment set up for the preparation of delivery-only meals. They don’t have a storefront or indoor seating for customers.
How long have ghost kitchens been in operation?
You might think ghost kitchens are the result of the global pandemic that has closed restaurants across the country. You would be wrong. The term was first used in a 2015 article on NBC New York who criticized ghost kitchens after an investigative team caught New York City restaurant owners listing their business under several different brands on delivery apps such as Seamless and GrubHub.
What do they mean to the consumer?
Jorge Sanchez, chef and culinary instructor, tells NBCLX that ghost or virtual kitchens help an existing food operation create favorite delivery dishes without the traditional overhead. Several dining options are sold and delivered from one location, sometimes with as few as three employees on site. “People are interested in healthier, fresher ethnic choices. And a customer would never know that this is from an operator who produces many other brands at the same time,” Sanchez said.
Are they good for small business owners?
While the consumer might not know (or care) that they are ordering in a ghost kitchen, the same cannot be said of the traditional brick and mortar restaurants that your business may miss. Juan Carlos Restrepo, owner and owner of Happy Wine in Little Havana, Miami, specializes in wine but also serves small dishes like tapas and other small sandwiches. Restrepo told NBCLX he was forced to follow the food delivery model to survive after the pandemic. Now that the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, he fears the ghost kitchens are hurting his results.
“The problem is that it has become like a monopoly of companies like Uber Eats or Doordash because they have taken over other competitors and the monopoly is going to create negative effects on independent restaurants because they will increase commission fees. will affect us. and the customer too, ”he told NBCLX.
Are monopoly claims legitimate?
Last year, a class action lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York City alleging that companies like Doordash and Uber Eats retained monopoly power giving consumers and restaurants “little choice but to do business. with them”. NBCLX has reached out to many brands of delivery apps for a response. A spokesperson for Uber Eats responded, “We do not own or operate ghost kitchens or delivery-only facilities. We appreciate the work of every restaurant that chooses to partner with Uber Eats.”