What is a ghost kitchen?

The growth of delivery during the Covid-19 pandemic created an opportunity for the industry to embrace ghost kitchens or commissary kitchens. Their popularity has meant that foodservice jargon has spilled over into everyday life. If you’re wondering what the heck a ghost kitchen is, you’re on the right blog post!

Simply put, a ghost kitchen or commissary kitchen is a dedicated commercial cooking facility where two or more restaurants have delivery orders prepared and cooked. They are essentially restaurants without a dinning space. Other names for ghost kitchens include:

  • Cloud kitchen
  • Dark kitchen
  • Delivery kitchen
  • Off-premise kitchen
  • Shadow kitchen
  • Virtual kitchen

While a standard restaurant would have dine in customers and possibly also offer pick up options, a ghost kitchen focuses entirely on selling and fulfilling online food orders. They usually partner with 3rd party apps like DoorDash or UberEats and lack a storefront. Ghost kitchens have become a popular alternative to full-fledged restaurants because they allow restaurants to cut down their operating costs.

Types of Ghost Kitchens

The concept is still evolving, so keep in mind that terms that fall under the “ghost kitchen” umbrella could vary slightly depending on where you are and who you speak to about them.

Virtual Sister Brands

Quite a few dine in restaurants are leaning into the ghost kitchen trend by launching virtual, delivery only brands using their existing kitchens. Here in Chicago, for example, Frato’s Pizza is taking advantage of consumers who are ordering online. You can still order your favorite pizza from Frato’s but the kitchen is also preparing delivery only orders for 4 spinoff brands: Halal Kitchen, Tenderlicious, Cheesy Deliciousness, and Heavenly Shakes.

Shared Commissary Kitchen Spaces

Shared commissary kitchens aren’t located in a restaunrat kitchen and are like the WeWork of foodservice. Depending on the set up and management, you could have multiple independent brands working out of a single commercial facility or multiple brands operated by the same team.

Ghost kitchens are a way for restaunts and foodservice operators to increase their reveue, especially as the industry recovers from the pandemic. And as more consumers continue to rely on online ordering and 3rd party delivery options, they are expected to grow in popularity.