Technological advancements have led to a new type of commercial kitchen, one that is more cost-effective and flexible. Nationally, cloud kitchens are on the rise. Restaurants sometimes refer to these commissary kitchens as shared commercial kitchens.
An average restaurant costs between a few thousand dollars and a few million dollars to open. The average cost of owning a restaurant building is $425,000, or $3,734 per seat. Most restaurant entrepreneurs underestimate this cost by 15 percent.
A restaurant owner’s budget can spiral out of control, as they overspend on purchasing equipment, iPads for order taking, marketing campaigns, remodeling, and food products.
Fixed-location restaurants have high operating costs. Restaurants are therefore embracing cloud kitchens as the latest trend. Food delivery apps on smartphones have helped popularize this innovative concept, which has been around for some time.
The latest terms (which the restaurant industry has yet to agree on) are interchangeable. Ghost kitchens, shared kitchens, and virtual kitchens are some of the names used to describe cloud kitchens. These terms are all used to describe delivery-only food operations.
This type of delivery-only option has been available to consumers for decades (think Chinese takeout or pizza delivery). As consumer preferences change and technology evolves, delivery-only models have become the norm. Compared to brick-and-mortar restaurants, virtual kitchens have more advantages.
What are cloud kitchens?
Restaurants rent space in cloud kitchens to produce delivery-only menu items from commercial food production facilities. At any given time, a cloud kitchen may be occupied by anywhere from one to several dozen restaurants.
With cloud kitchens, multiple restaurants can operate under one roof, or different restaurants can prepare delivery-only meals. It’s not uncommon for cloud kitchens to be in industrial complexes far from town centers.
Cloud kitchens resemble huge warehouses and contain several stations. A typical brick-and-mortar restaurant is replicated in each of these mini restaurants by stainless steel prep tables, stoves, ovens, sinks, and hood vents.
Parking lots and driver waiting areas are located directly outside the cloud kitchens. The waiting areas may even have screens that display order times. A customer’s order can be delivered as quickly and efficiently as possible in these areas.
Technology is the key to cloud kitchens’ success. Food delivery apps collect data about food habits. Using the data, one can determine what type of food is most popular in a particular neighborhood or during a particular period of time. It is not uncommon for cloud kitchens near colleges to receive orders for hot wings around 11 PM.
Technological advances enable restaurants to expand their businesses. Delivery-only brands are likely to be added to brick-and-mortar restaurants’ current in-house menus. Depending on the restaurant, they may stick to their normal menu or offer a new menu made specifically for delivery.
What are the features of shared kitchens?
Catering companies, wholesale bakers, packaged food sellers, and event caterers are all likely to use shared commercial kitchens. Since these facilities are used solely for food production, they do not offer dining facilities like seating or parking for customers.
Caterers, for example, benefit from shared kitchens’ cost-effectiveness. Renting out a shared kitchen during the weekend makes financial sense for professionals who prepare food primarily on weekends (instead of paying a full month’s rent when parts of the month are left unused).
A membership fee covers all the essentials of using the shared kitchen. Shared kitchens include appliances and major kitchen tools, so members do not have to purchase these items. Restaurant owners enjoy the convenience and simplicity of using a shared kitchen.
In addition, all shared kitchens meet state and local regulations for safety and cleanliness. Large-scale food production is permitted, certified, and possible in the commercial space. There is no restriction on how long entrepreneurs may rent the space, such as a few hours or a few months.