As the landscape of the restaurant business continues to change amidst the COVID era, more and more restaurateurs are exploring ways to thrive in the new normal. One of the routes that are quickly becoming very popular is what’s being called the cloud kitchen business model.
Cloud kitchens, also known as dark kitchens, ghost kitchens, or virtual kitchens, are essentially delivery-only restaurants that operate from a single kitchen space and interact with customers via online orders. With everything from entertainment to shopping to education moving online, it makes sense that “dining out” makes that shift as well.
With no front of house operations and smaller physical real estate needed, it’s understandable how the cloud kitchen model appeals to many business owners. It’s comparatively low-cost and allows you to focus on your food. Curious to find out more? Here are five essential things you need to know about cloud kitchens.
Cloud kitchens are also called virtual kitchens for a good reason. Because customers can only avail of their food via delivery, third-party food delivery apps are very much involved when it comes to the actual ordering and serving of food.
Beyond this, most of the restaurant’s advertising and marketing will also exist online as this would be the most efficient way to get customers from awareness to purchase.
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One of the biggest advantages of cloud kitchens is that it gives restaurateurs the ability to operate multiple brands with different menus from one kitchen set-up. This opens up the possibility of even more profit being generated from one space.
In certain cloud kitchen models, business owners are opening up kitchens for multiple other restaurants to rent space in — meaning you could certainly explore leasing from an already existing cloud kitchen enterprise as opposed to building your own.
The most obvious cost-saver when it comes to cloud kitchens is not needing front of house services. But more than this, business owners also save more because they can rent out smaller spaces that don’t need to be in a prime location.
Many cloud kitchens operate from locations that don’t necessarily have the highest foot traffic because they don’t need dine-in customers, which means you can opt for areas that are more affordable and functional. Some of what restaurateurs save from these, however, will need to go into other things that cloud kitchens need to thrive, such as dependable internet for the staff, strong digital marketing, optimized food packaging, and sufficient parking spaces for delivery drivers.
With everything running online, it makes it easier for restaurant owners to generate and access real-time customer data. Are certain menu items doing better at a specific time period? Is the majority of your customer base made up of single millennials or older parents? Is your restaurant appealing more to working condo-dwellers or families in subdivisions?
This sort of invaluable data is easily generated by online orders and allows business owners to adapt, optimize, and make the most out of this information.
Scaling operation in a cloud kitchen set-up is a lot simpler and easier than your traditional brick-and-mortar establishment. Because investment costs are lower, business owners can open more cloud kitchens or even expand operations in an existing one.
Scaling is even easier when looking at renting from an already-established cloud kitchen. If a restaurateur is opening a new virtual restaurant with several others in an operator-based cloud kitchen, they simply just need to bring their staff and ingredients and can start operations straight away. On this note, sharing expensive equipment with other restaurants is also another way cloud kitchens save you money.
With many businesses pivoting and adapting to life during (and soon, after) COVID, the cloud kitchen model is quickly becoming a profitable and reliable response from the pioneers in the restaurant industry. It’s not only an effective way to thrive in the new normal, but it also brings forth exciting new possibilities for restaurateurs everywhere.
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