American culture has become accustomed to virtual casinos, virtual banks, and virtual retailers, so who could doubt that purely virtual restaurants would follow? A ghost restaurant is one that only exists on the web, virtually, usually through one of the food delivery services like Doordash, Grubhub, or Uber Eats, or through a dedicated restaurant web site that offers delivery. These ghostlike apparitions are already out there hypnotizing the public with otherworldly offerings brought right to their doors.
We are not talking about take-out from your local brick and mortar Chili’s or your neighborhood Pizza joint, we are talking about a restaurant with no physical facility open to customers in the retail market, no tables and chairs, no waiters or waitresses, no fully stocked bar, and incidentally none of the fixed costs that accompany those accoutrements.
The focus is on the food alone; and, up-and-coming chefs like that concept. No need for a crash course on mood barware and the ambiance created by particular types of plating, no need to understand the science of table placement, and no need to find front-of-the-house employees who are intelligent, welcoming, and dependable. Finally, talented, imaginative chefs who, in the past, might never have been able to corral the investor capital necessary to open a traditional restaurant can rent a commercial kitchen, create a menu limited only by their own ingenuity and resourcefulness, photograph their dishes, create a user-friendly web site, and begin to sell their wares to the public. If the food is high-quality, the Yelp public will come.
Ghost restaurants not only endow inspired, hard-working, creative chefs with an opportunity that was not available to them just 10 years ago, the concept benefits the more sophisticated consumer. Entrepreneurial chefs can focus their energies on creating fresh, tasty dishes at lower prices for consumers who appreciate the convenience of home delivery coupled with the kinds of foods they might expect to see in a high-end brick and mortar restaurant. The public’s demand for fresh, prepared foods is evident from the explosion of boxed ingredient companies like Blue Apron, Home Chef, and Plated, supplying home-chefs with easy-to-prepare, original dinners. Ghost restaurants go one step further. They do the preparation and cooking and deliver the meal to the consumer’s door.
The restaurant industry over the past five years has edged from gastropubs (local neighborhood bars serving fresh, innovative, chef-prepared dishes) to making the same kind of foods available to anyone with a computer, a credit card, and a love of celestial flavors. In fact, one commercial kitchen can support numerous on-line concepts.
So, restaurant entrepreneurs out there with a great ghost restaurant concept, a talent for food preparation, and a chef’s burning ambition, take the laboring oar and dive in, the demand is unworldly, and the profits are supernatural. Soon we will be helping you franchise your ghost restaurant ideas nationally. All things are possible in the virtual world of ghost dining.
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