To say that COVID-19 has disrupted our collective way of life would be an understatement. It has changed our day-to-day functions in a potentially permanent way. In order to survive such an upheaval, we must adapt and evolve. This is especially crucial for restaurants, as we rely on human interaction to keep our doors open. Yet what can we do when that interaction is part of the problem? Many places are complying with recommended operation policies such as limiting the number of guests, social distancing guest tables, and even offering outdoor seating only. But is that enough to maintain profitability? And what about the businesses without their own brick-and-mortar who may rent space from a third party like caterers or pop-up restaurants?
There is a growing concept that is spinning the culinary industry on its head and is altering our traditional take on restaurants. Ghost kitchens, also called cloud kitchens, are meeting the demand for dining, albeit without the experience. A ghost kitchen is a restaurant that offers professional food preparation for delivery only. They either use a delivery service or provide that themselves. While this concept can put a cap on a day’s potential earnings, the benefits are becoming more and more clear as time goes on. Without a front-of-the-house staff (servers, bartenders, hostesses, and the like), the cost of labor is practically cut in half. Utilities are also less expensive as less electricity is needed. Accidents, customer drama, and even food waste are all cut to a minimum. Operating a kitchen for ghosts seems like a viable solution for an issue that has no end in sight yet.
The food industry has long been susceptible to the ebb and flow of societal and economic fluctuations. It can be hard to face a seemingly unending barrage of complications and roadblocks. But we overcome and we persevere. We put passion before ourselves and never give up. Our love of food demands flexibility and innovation. Ghost kitchens are the next step in the future of culinary arts, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what happens next.