How to Open a Ghost Kitchen

Learn how to open a ghost kitchen with these tips from Kingswood Leasing, powered by TimePayment!

How to Open a Ghost Kitchen

With the increasing demand for takeout and delivery, many operators and investors wonder if they should open a ghost kitchen. Ghost kitchens (also referred to as dark kitchens, virtual kitchens, or shadow kitchens) are facilities set up to prepare takeout or delivery-only items. Many Ghost Kitchens have thrived over the past 18 months with help from Kingswood Leasing* as they procured, prepared, cooked, and delivered thousands of meals all over the US.

A study conducted by Upserve found delivery apps such as DoorDash and GrubHub have grown 300% faster than traditional dine-in restaurants in the last five years.

The ghost kitchen concept is nothing new. An NBC New York article coined the phrase in 2015 when they investigated restaurant owners listing their establishments under multiple different brands on delivery platforms. Those restaurants ended up being removed from GrubHub and Seamless’ platforms. Both delivery companies created new policies to check restaurant information and give customers more transparency into where they were ordering from.

Since then, ghost kitchens have morphed to become lucrative businesses. Some of the benefits of ghost kitchens include:

  1. Ability to capitalize on increased delivery and takeout demand
  2. Reduced overhead
  3. Less food waste
  4. Opportunities to open in locations that are not ideal for traditional restaurants due to lack of parking and dining space

Earlier this year, Kitchen United secured its second lease agreement in Chicago. The commercial space located in Chicago will be home to 10 kitchens arranged to resemble a food court. A centralized food ordering and pickup location will exist in the space. Not only is this model great for professionals that need to grab a quick bite, but it’s also a convenient option for families and other groups. This business model takes the argument out of “what’s for dinner,” allowing Chinese food, pizza, pasta, and burgers to be placed in one order that someone can pick up in one fell swoop.

Learn how to open a ghost kitchen with these tips from Kingswood Leasing, powered by TimePayment!

If you want to open a ghost kitchen, it is important first to figure out your business model.

The Kitchen United model that allows a large space to be managed by one company while individual brands manage their kitchen operations has gained popularity. If this option appeals to you, check out this resource from The Kitchen Door. They’ve compiled a listing of commercial kitchens available to rent.

Other operators are choosing to open space only big enough to run their own kitchen. A variation of this model allows a single restauranteur to run multiple kitchens out of a centralized location. This is an excellent option for operators who want to offer new concepts without investing in opening a traditional dine-in restaurant.

Another interesting take on the ghost kitchen allows operators in a traditional dine-in restaurant to operate a takeout-only establishment from their existing space. In this option, the ghost kitchen menu would not be available for dine-in customers. This is another way an established restauranteur can test a new concept without a large amount of overhead.

It is not only new concepts that choose to open a ghost kitchen. Many established chains, such as Panera and Chick-Fil-A, are opting to open takeaway-only locations. This allows them to open in new markets with reduced overhead.

While it may be a great option for some, the decision to open a ghost kitchen does not come without drawbacks.

A few important things to consider with this business model are:

  • Reduced relationship-building touchpoints with your customers
  • Less control of the presentation, temperatures, consistency, and delivery of your food items
  • High third-party delivery fees (fees can be between 20-40%)
  • Delivery errors that are out of the operator’s control (that can often taint the customer’s view of the restaurant)
  • Increased competition as reduced overhead costs make opening a ghost kitchen more financially accessible
  • Increased need to rank highly online when customers search for takeout options could mean increased ad spending, particularly pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
  • Limited access to customer information, as third-party apps will own the customer information and order history, making marketing to past customers impossible in some

Learn how to open a ghost kitchen with these tips from Kingswood Leasing, powered by TimePayment!

There is no denying that this business model can offer big rewards to operators. Here are a few tips to running a thriving ghost kitchen:

Meticulously plan your menu. Many dishes don’t travel well. Choosing to offer items you know will arrive in an optimal state is critical. Aim for quality menu items vs. a large quantity. Focusing on knockout dishes you know will travel well will help you avoid unhappy customers.

Stay organized. From keeping on top of your inventory to ensuring your staff always have the items they need, where they need them, keeping your kitchen well organized will save you money and aggravation.

Automate as much as possible. Often, operators open a ghost kitchen to keep overhead costs to a minimum. The flip side of this is the spaces are often small and can feel crowded. Automation and streamlining your processes can help keep your costs down while maximizing your space.

Become a marketing mastermind. Eliminating touchpoints with your customers means less opportunity to dazzle them. Get creative with ways to show your appreciation and convert them into loyal, raving fans. Ensure you’re utilizing social media consistently, invest in advertising, and create a cohesive branding experience through your packaging. Of course, an impeccable customer experience during each touchpoint you do have is vital.

Regardless of the type of ghost kitchen you open, you will need equipment, signage, AV equipment, and more! Keep your working capital available for daily operational costs by working with Kingswood Leasing* to explore equipment lease financing options. It only takes a few minutes to apply, and you will be able to get the items you need for monthly payments you can afford.

Contact us to learn how we can help you open a ghost kitchen today!

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How to Choose a Fryer for Your Commercial Kitchen

Learn how to choose a fryer for your commercial kitchen with these tips from Kingswood Leasing!

A fryer is a staple in many commercial kitchens, but not all commercial fryers are created equal! With the help of Kingswood Leasing, you can get a fryer by paying comfortable monthly payments with no payment due at signing. Preserving your working capital is essential. In this post, you’ll learn how to choose a fryer that will best suit your operational needs.

How to Choose a Fryer for Your Commercial Kitchen

Tank Type

First, determine what size fryer will best keep up with the demand of your hungry patrons.

Fryer tank capacities are primarily measured by how many pounds of oil they hold. This means a 50-pound fryer can hold 50 pounds of oil. Most commercial fryers have an output of two times the weight of oil each hour. So, a 50-pound fryer can reasonably be expected to produce up to 100 pounds of food per hour.

While single-tank models work well for frying one type of food at a time, twin-tanks allow you to cook multiple kinds of food at once. One added benefit of twin tanks is that you can choose to run only one tank at a time. This benefit can help the unit be used in a more energy-efficient way.

Filtration

A fryer model with built-in filtering capabilities can be an excellent choice for those looking to reduce operating costs. These models filter the oil used in the fryer to extend its life and improve cost-effectiveness.

Without a filtration system, operators can expect most oils to last no more than three days. While manually filtering the oil can extend oil life by a few days, units with built-in filtration can keep oil fresh for up to nine days. Not only does this reduce your oil expenses, but it also saves your staff time and ensures your food items are always fried in great-tasting oil.

Learn how to choose a fryer for your commercial kitchen with these tips from Kingswood Leasing!

Temperature Control

Your options here are either a computer process controller or a manual dial thermostat controller. The manual control is just that; it allows the operator to control the unit’s temperature manually. While this is often a lower-cost option, the operator must have advanced knowledge on how to fry different food items to ensure everything is cooked correctly. A computer process controller automates the process and allows the fryer to adjust temperatures, resulting in perfectly cooked items every time.

Recovery Time

Recovery time refers to how long it takes for the oil to return to the optimal temperature after food is added. This is important because it can affect the taste of the food and the efficiency of the fryer. Learn more about recovery time here (https://www.pitco.com/blog/why-fryer-recovery-times-are-important).

Sediment Zone

The location of the sediment zone is essential when it comes to the ease of fryer maintenance.

As small pieces of food fall off during the frying process, they collect and eventually become carbon residue. This process is called carbonization, and it can ruin the taste of your food. Carbonization also ruins your oil quality.

Sediment zones prevent carbonization by holding food particles at a slightly lower temperature, so they do not burn.

You will need to clean the sediment zones regularly and ensuring you can access the area easily is key.

Learn how to choose a fryer for your commercial kitchen with these tips from Kingswood Leasing!

Gas Vs. Electric

Electric fryers are typically used in kitchens that fry foods infrequently or at a low volume. Gas options offer quick cycle times and can fry a high volume per hour.

Learn more about the difference between gas and electric options in this in-depth article from the Foodservice Equipment Journal. (https://www.foodserviceequipmentjournal.com/the-big-fryer-debate-should-you-buy-gas-or-electric/)

Placement

Finally, you’ll need to choose between a model that sits on the floor and a model that is set on top of an existing surface. For establishments frying high volumes of food items, a floor-standing model will be best. However, if only niche items are fried in small batches or your fryer is used infrequently, a smaller tabletop model will likely suffice. Freeing up floor space can be especially helpful in small kitchens, such as cafes or concession stands.

Equipment lease financing ensures you get the equipment you need now while still having the cash you need on hand for increased labor costs, unforeseen expenses, and day-to-day operational costs.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with your equipment lease financing needs!

For more information on how to choose a fryer that will best suit your needs, check out these resources:
A Quick Primer on the Different Types of Commercial Fryers
Vulcan Fryers: Good, Better, Best
Preventative Maintenance for Your Commercial Deep Fryer