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Operations

Ghost kitchens are here to stay—here’s how to make the most of the model

Photograph: Shutterstock

The booming foodservice delivery industry provided tailwinds for ghost kitchens to grow in recent years, but amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the model is more profitable than ever.

Ghost kitchens (also known as dark kitchens and virtual kitchens) trim the costs of real estate, labor and menu innovation by condensing the restaurant model to accommodate off-premise food sales without a traditional dine-in space. Instead of seating guests indoors, deliveries made by the restaurant or by a third-party service are the mainstay.

These facilities naturally found their niche as shelter-in-place orders forced operators nationwide to close their dining areas, but ghost kitchens are far more than a passing trend. The boom in ghost kitchens catalyzed by the coronavirus will likely outlast the pandemic itself: According to Technomic, sales via ghost restaurants from 300 facilities in the United States will rise by a projected 25% each year for the next 5 years—an estimated $300 million in yearly sales. For this reason, operators would likely benefit by investing in the ghost kitchen model long-term.

Best practices for boosting ghost kitchen profits

Whether an operator is offering delivery for the first time or they’re already accustomed to off-premise sales, it may be wise to reassess costs and demands specific to their virtual facilities. It can be helpful to examine inventory costs and food waste to increase profit margin on each dish.

In addition, operators can benefit by maximizing on the added efficiency of the ghost kitchen model to reduce labor and cut costs. Simplifying the menu and optimizing recipes to better suit delivery can expedite prep and ensure quality. Creating options for consumers to upgrade their dish that boost check averages without adding time and labor in the kitchen can be a great way to increase profits, too.

Pre-prepared ingredients can provide a simple way for operators to upgrade dishes in a snap. Avocados, for example, have mass appeal as an add-on. They’re versatile, trendy and come with a slew of health benefits consumers love. Plus, they travel well. With Simplot’s perfectly ripened avocado pulp, as well as guacamole and slices, dices and halves (offered both fresh and frozen), upgrading a dish with avocado takes just a few seconds.

Individually wrapped and frozen options extend shelf life and minimize waste while providing diners with the freshest product possible. Whether operators are sprucing up a salad with diced avocado, serving them sliced on a sandwich or pairing guacamole with chips as an appetizer, Simplot offers a variety of options to suit any recipe while saving time that would otherwise be spent peeling and cutting.

To learn about how Simplot can help operators increase profits as they take on new frontiers in the restaurant world, visit simplotfoods.com/kitchen.

This post is sponsored by Simplot

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