Ghost kitchens can take several different forms, from commissary-style kitchens to mobile operations (similar to a food truck) and beyond.
Denver’s ChefReady equips restaurant owners with everything they need in one of 10 250-square-foot spaces to help them keep overhead costs low. “We also offer technology to consolidate third-party apps, and we'll have food runners to expedite orders to waiting drivers,” said Nili Poynter, co-owner of ChefReady, in an interview with Westword.
Reef Kitchens turns unused parking lots into thriving ghost kitchens. In an article in The New Yorker, writer Anna Wiener describes stumbling upon one of Reef’s Neighborhood Kitchens in San Francisco. “I could see two men moving around what appeared to be a kitchen. The generator hummed; the air carried the comforting smell of fryer oil; the toilets were padlocked. One of the men came to the window and apologized: I couldn’t order food directly, he told me—I would have to order through the apps.” Reef is just one example that an all-digital experience is well within reach for many restaurants (and their patrons).
Bigger chains are joining in, as well. Wingstop opened its first ghost kitchen in June 2020, with 65 percent of sales coming from digital channels—up from 47 percent before COVID. McDonald’s launched their first ghost-kitchen concept in the U.K. (in 2019, no less). Restaurant Business Online reports that “brands such as Famous Dave’s, Dog Haus and others have accelerated plans for ghost kitchens since the pandemic began.”