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Are Ghost Kitchens the Future?

Kitchen United offers co-working restaurant space, but does it work for everyone?

Photo Courtesy of QSR Magazine.

As counter-service brands grapple with rising rents and shrinking margins amid a crush of off-premises demand, some are ditching the dining room altogether and buying into the virtual kitchen model.

Virtual or “Ghost” kitchens are stripped-down commercial cooking spaces with no dine-in option.

They function as hubs for online delivery and catering orders, eliminating the need for premium locations.

Less prime real estate also means more space to accommodate delivery and catering vehicles that would otherwise jockey with customers for parking space.

It’s an ever-more-appealing prospect as the $17 billion U.S. online food delivery market climbs toward a projected $24 billion by 2023.

Kitchen United, has a two-part model comprised of a shared kitchen space for companies looking to test and launch new products and a multi-kitchen virtual restaurant to help brands expand delivery or cheaply and quickly get into new markets.

Kitchen United charges a monthly membership fee that covers rent, infrastructure and commercial equipment, and services like dishwashing, food receiving, and cold storage.

Securing a $10 million investment last year led by Google Ventures, Kitchen United aggressively aims to open 10-15 facilities by year-end.

Kitchen United employees retrieve food from the line and bring it out to delivery drivers or customers. Customers can also place orders on-site at kiosks and pick them up.

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