What is a cloud kitchen?
Cloud kitchens take restaurants to a whole new place.
A cloud kitchen is a rentable kitchen in a shared space which allow restaurateurs to prepare food for delivery.
Picture a large space with numerous stations (mini-restaurants) of stainless steel prep tables, hood vents, stoves, ovens, and sinks, each with its own orders coming in direct from customers.
In short, cloud kitchens are a branch of a restaurant that offers delivery services only.
They are also referred to as ‘ghost kitchens’, ‘dark kitchens’ or even ‘virtual kitchens’ and thanks to lower real estate and operational costs as well as a new customer base for eateries to explore, they are making growth far more accessible.
Why cloud kitchens?
Cloud kitchens allow chefs to prepare food without having to worry about maintaining the dine-in portion of a brick-and-mortar location.
They are fast becoming a hot trend in the food-delivery arena and it is easy to see why:
- With no brick-and-mortar restaurant, there are lower upfront and operational costs
- These kitchens are usually in densely populated areas allowing for more customers & quicker turnaround
No fear of outgrowing your restaurant space as cloud kitchens are flexible and scalable
- Cloud kitchens are fully functioning commercial kitchen spaces, so you can hit the ground running with no set up costs
What are the advantages of a Cloud Kitchen?
There are several reasons why you should consider a cloud kitchen or even adding a “micro” cloud kitchen to your restaurant business.
1. More customers
Unlike a traditional dine-in restaurant, a cloud kitchen does not rely on customers being physically present. You can therefore reach out to those located kms away, catering to a wider range of customers than you have ever done before. With this in mind, you will be able to offer a broader range of cuisines and your services will be more versatile. More cuisines & more customers, makes for a more sustainable kitchen!
2. You will be able to experiment more easily
A cloud kitchen represents a lower risk with lower capital outlay, providing greater freedom to experiment with different ideas.
If you have a restaurant and your cloud kitchen is a side hustle (a micro cloud kitchen!), then a cloud kitchen can enable you to test and learn before bringing that experience to your in-service guests. You can first introduce your new addition on the cloud kitchen menu and see how it performs. Later, it can be added to your restaurant’s regular menu if you find that the product is generating good revenue.
A cloud kitchen allows operators to get creative and test new offerings, all without the added pressure of sky-high rents or having to simultaneously execute on an in-service experience for guests. For example – Melt Shop utilized cloud kitchens to launch a new concept, Melt’s Wing Shop, focusing solely on wings.
3. A “micro” cloud kitchen can allow you to use your existing resources better
Of course, not every restaurant is busy all the time, there will always be times when most places are running slow. You might then want to consider a micro cloud kitchen for these slow times to carry out delivery services. Everything that you have that would otherwise be idle during those hours – the staff, the kitchen, the inventory – can be put to use, thereby using your restaurant’s resources to their full potential.
What is the most important technology consideration for a cloud kitchen?
The most important technology decision to make when opening a cloud kitchen is how to manage the food delivery process – and an online ordering system is essential, improving profit margins and increasing consumer confidence.
Though phone calls and emails can still be used, online ordering is essential as most customers prefer to order online for take-away.
However, not all online ordering solutions are created equal.
Third-party online ordering marketplaces are great tools for driving traffic your way, but can cost you a 30% fee on every order, plus they may also control the guest data from your customers.
Of course, direct online ordering solutions charge no commission fees, and let you own your guest data, which is key for driving repeat orders but you will need to work harder to be visible online.
What are some Cloud Kitchen examples?
What is the future of cloud kitchens?
Whilst many restaurants have suffered due to Covid, but cloud kitchens have been able to weather the Covid-19 storm and as consumers increasingly lean in to getting take away, the cloud-kitchen market will likely get even hotter.
In the current environment and with the continued uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, cloud kitchens or food and beverages outlets backed by a cloud kitchen network have a better chance of survival and are likely the future of the food industry.
And then, into the future restaurants across the world will reappear, and cloud kitchens will also remain – both will survive.