delivery-only restaurant
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

Have you always dreamed of starting a restaurant but can’t afford to? Luckily, there are more affordable alternatives to table service restaurants. One of them is delivery-only restaurants that require minimal investment and deliver a high-profit margin.

Below, we’ll walk you through the steps of starting a delivery-only restaurant, including all the tools and technology you need to succeed.

What Is a Delivery-Only Restaurant?

As the name suggests, delivery-only restaurants, also referred to as virtual restaurants, ghost restaurants, or dark kitchens, are food providers that don’t have a physical location. Instead, they just deliver their food to customers’ homes.

5 Benefits of Running a Delivery-Only Restaurant

1. More affordable than brick-and-mortar restaurants

Forget about spending thousands of dollars on leasing a space, and just as much on furnishing and equipping it to welcome customers.

The delivery-only restaurant model helps restaurateurs accomplish their dream of owning a restaurant without the risk and high investment that usually comes with it.

2. Streamlined ordering process

All you need to accept orders in a delivery-only restaurant is a reliable online ordering system and an order-taking app.

All your orders will be stored in a single dashboard, where you can easily keep track of them and monitor your success.

This also eliminates the risk of human error that’s so common when accepting orders by phone or in person. It’s a better experience for your customers and staff alike.

3. Flexibility and room for innovation

Delivery-only restaurant brands have the huge advantage of experimenting with their menu, marketing, promotions, and technology.

That’s because their time and resources aren’t consumed trying to operate a brick-and-mortar location.

Do you want to experiment with daily specials? Add a limited-time promotion to the menu? Update the price of one of your best-selling dishes? With an online menu, you can do that in minutes.

Attract new customers daily with enticing menu items and exclusive promotions Update your menu in minutes using GloriaFood’s intuitive menu builder

4. Increased profit margin

A lower initial investment as well as reduced overhead costs and expenses leads to more profit for you because you keep more of the money you make on every order.

Why struggle trying to stay afloat among the fierce competition in your area when you can reach more customers with a delivery-only model?

5. Affordable marketing avenues

Investing in storefronts and billboards advertising your restaurant can severely cut into your marketing budget.

But delivery-only restaurants can advertise themselves online, which is generally free, or requires very small investments. Whether on your website, social media, or third-party review platforms, there are plenty of places where you can attract customers online.

10 Steps to Starting a Delivery-Only Restaurant

Are you tempted by delivery-only restaurant concepts? Let’s see how you can set up one yourself.

1. Obtain all the licenses and permits you need

So, do you need a license to deliver food? You most certainly do.

All your employees need to get their ServSafe Food Handler Certification, you need to be registered as an LLC, pass an inspection by your local health department, and get liability insurance.

The licenses and permits you need will depend on where you’re operating, so check local regulations to ensure you’re all set before you start delivering food to customers.

2. Find a suitable location for your ghost kitchen

Next, in order to sell food, you have to operate out of a licensed commercial kitchen. Commercial kitchens are coworking spaces where delivery-only kitchens can rent the space they need to prepare food.

The good news is you can rent these spaces by the hour, so you don’t have to pay for it more than what you need.

3. Hire a small team

Since you’re not going to run a brick-and-mortar restaurant, you don’t need a huge team. Essentially, you need to hire a chef, someone to help out in the kitchen, and a couple of drivers, if you don’t want to use third-party delivery services.

Don’t worry about having a designated person to accept incoming orders. With the GloriaFood online ordering system, you can accept orders on your smartphone, with the tap of a button. Anyone can do it. Here’s how easy it is:

Consent needed

Forget everything you thought you knew about restaurant menus. A delivery-only menu is very different from dine-in menus because. Not all food travels well and you can afford to experiment more with an online menu.

Based on your restaurant concept, target market, and niche, brainstorm a limited menu (you don’t need to sell a lot of dishes to be popular) to kick things off with.

how to create a delivery-only restaurant menu

The best part about a delivery-only menu is you can change it anytime until you figure out a recipe that works for your audience.

Get more new and returning customers with a show-stopping delivery menu Use our intuitive drag-and-drop menu builder for free

Watch this video tutorial to learn how to set up your very own delivery menu:

Consent needed

5. Get ready to accept orders with a streamlined online ordering system

To start accepting delivery orders, you need an online ordering system that won’t break the bank. We have the solution: the FREE online ordering system by GloriaFood.

It only takes ten minutes to set up and doesn’t require any tech know-how. Simple, easy, and ready to help you sell your food online.

Accept your first delivery order by tonight using a free online ordering system Set it up in minutes – no taxes, fees, or hidden costs

This step-by-step tutorial will guide you through the process of setting up online ordering for your restaurant:

Consent needed

6. Convert more visitors into customers with a sales-optimized restaurant website

To keep those orders coming in, you don’t just need a restaurant website, you need one that is designed to convert and make it easy for customers to find you online.

sales optimized restaurant website

Make the See MENU & Order button visible above the fold and throughout your website, and optimize your website content for relevant local searches, such as [your cuisine] in [your area].

Enable customers to find you online and place orders with a sales-optimized website Generate one optimized for your restaurant cuisine in minutes

If you don’t want to learn all about search engine optimization and how to design a website that will convert, let us generate one for you. Here’s how:

Consent needed

7. Attract your first customers with first-order promos

Attracting new customers should be at the top of your restaurant delivery service business plan. What better way to draw them in than with a first-order discount?

Add it at the top of your online menu and print it on flyers that you distribute in the areas where you deliver to spread the word.

food delivery marketing ideas: promotions

Learn how you can do this and more with GloriaFood’s Kickstarter module:

Consent needed

8. Get repeat orders using targeted email marketing campaigns

Learn how to run a successful food delivery business by giving customers what they crave the most: discounts and promotions.

You need a tool that can help you identify customers who are slipping away and hook them back in with an impossible-to-refuse offer.

We have just the tool for you. Our Autopilot module enables you to send targeted emails to customers to:

  • Encourage second orders
  • Re-engage customers who haven’t ordered in a while
  • Prevent cart abandonment

running a delivery only restaurant using targeted email marketing

Learn how you can foster loyalty by sending targeted email campaigns in the video below:

Consent needed

9. Monitor your online sales and improve upon your menu with a reporting tool

To measure the success of your delivery-only restaurant, you need to analyze order data and figure out what works and what you can improve.

The online ordering system from GloriaFood comes with a built-in Reports module containing valuable restaurant analytics.

restaurant admin dashboard

You can monitor your orders, new and returning clients, Google rank, website funnel, sales trends, and more, so you can make informed decisions about the future of your restaurant.

Build a successful delivery-only restaurant by monitoring your sales and website data Access our detailed Reporting module for free

10. Keep sales coming by promoting your restaurant online

To ensure your restaurant is successful long-term, you need to invest some time in promotion for your food delivery service. Luckily, online promotion is mostly free. You can:

Your goal should be to get people talking about your restaurant and foster an online community of people who are passionate about your food and want to share it with others.

Wrapping up

A delivery-only restaurant is the perfect solution for you if you want to sell your food online without a large upfront investment. Following the steps above and using free or affordable tools, you can create a virtual restaurant that will be the talk of the town.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She creates guides and resources designed to help restaurants grow their presence online and boost sales.

She has been featured on the Oracle Food and Beverage Blog and wrote for Search Engine Journal, Clutch, Sender, Venngage, Quickbooks, and many more.

Find me on LinkedIn.