Ghost kitchens have been an emerging trend for several years, especially in certain parts of Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Due to the explosion of delivery recently, this steadily emerging trend has become a modern-day phenomenon globally, with the rapid development of such facilities throughout Europe and North America.
A ‘ghost’, ‘virtual’ or ‘dark’ kitchen, briefly defined, is a facility that has the equipment to prepare delivery-only food. The kitchens are designed with equipment capable of producing restaurant quality food, but without there being a physical restaurant in which to serve it.
Ghost kitchens have become delivery profit centers for operators, with a few design variations—from pop-up ghost kitchens for brick and mortar restaurants or commissary-style kitchens shared by multiple brands. While equipment and design needs vary depending on the type of ghost kitchen, equipment flexibility is always a key consideration.
Ghost kitchen operators need to be able to produce a variety of food at the highest quality—from ‘traditional’ chicken and ribs to Chinese and Thai, and every cuisine in-between. Operators are looking for equipment that fits their space and design, while also providing a great deal of versatility and flexibility to execute menus effortlessly.
Versatility and volume
For commissary-style ghost kitchens, operators need equipment that can produce large volumes of food at a consistent quality. Vector® F Series Multi-Cook ovens from Alto-Shaam, as well as Combitherm® combi ovens, holding equipment, and QuickChiller™ blast chillers are in particular demand in commissary-style ghost kitchens that produce a high volume of food at the highest quality.
It’s an equipment system that enables ghost kitchen operators to prepare food in advance, blast chill it, and then re-thermalize it quickly when ordered. This food production process has proven to improve delivery ticket times and produce better food quality, compared to microwave alternatives.
For brick and mortar restaurant operators, leasing or purchasing a “pop-up” ghost kitchen space can help recover dine-in loss, while streamlining food production and improving ticket times for delivery. Ventilation, in these spaces can be a challenge, as the space is often previously vacant and not set up as a kitchen. Operators can save installation and operating costs when designing their pop-up ghost kitchen by choosing ventless equipment that does not require additional water hookups or traditional ventilation systems.
Alto-Shaam’s Vector H Series ovens are ventless, compact and waterless, allowing operators to place their oven anywhere and utilize their kitchen space, their way. As an added bonus, Alto-Shaam Vector H Series ovens provide an unmatched volume and variety of food in the smallest space. Providing up to four ovens in one, Vector ovens cook up to four different food items simultaneously at different temperatures, fan speeds and cook time controls.
Greater menu consistency
Ghost kitchens are not always single operations. The more successful operators are taking a successful model and replicating it in new geographies. This, in turn, is highlighting the benefit of ‘smart’ equipment that is better ‘connected’, such as the new generation of Alto-Shaam equipment with its ChefLinc™ remote oven management system, which allows operators complete control of their equipment and menus. Pre-programmed recipes can be easily ‘pushed’ to a single oven or designated group of ovens from an organization’s centralized recipe library to ensure consistency across multiple locations. They also enable one-touch cooking, saving both time, training and labor.
With market conditions rapidly changing, operators continue to be nimble and pivot to better support and streamline their delivery programs through the development of ghost kitchens. As the industry adapts, manufacturers, consultants and design dealers will continue supporting a new generation of entrepreneurs by providing equipment solutions that are flexible, versatile and efficient.
For support with your next ghost kitchen project, contact Alto-Shaam director of consultant services Ryan Norman at firstname.lastname@example.org.