how to start a ghost kitchen
by Keith Pascal

In recent years, the food service industry has been shaken up with the introduction of ghost kitchens. In a time when online food delivery is becoming more and more popular, opening a ghost kitchen can be a profitable business idea. Below, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of this type of food business, and tell you how to start a ghost kitchen.

What Is a Ghost Kitchen?

Ghost kitchens are also commonly referred to as cloud kitchens, virtual kitchens, or dark kitchens. These businesses mostly serve clients through online ordering platforms and don’t have a physical location where customers can dine. Takeaway and drive-thru options are available at some ghost kitchens, although they are the exception to the traditional ones.

Advantages of a Ghost Kitchen

With cloud kitchens, you can explore different options while keeping the same space as your original brand. They offer a great opportunity to experiment with different foods, cooking methods, and menu items. By offering a variety of menu items, you can attract a wider audience and keep them coming back for more. Let’s look at some more advantages of starting a cloud kitchen.

Cost efficiency

Since a ghost restaurant lacks a physical dining location, there are no overhead expenses involved in purchasing or renting a commercial restaurant location. There will be no need to print menus since all the sales will be in the form of online orders.

Staffing/employee expenses will also be significantly lower because there is no need for client-facing employees, which includes wait staff, hostesses, and bartenders. Essentially all expenses related to in-house dining will be eliminated.

Easy to start

There are many obstacles when it comes to opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Ghost kitchens, on the other hand, are way less complicated to get into. There are many options to rent a kitchen space, and you may even find one with all the appliances and restaurant technology you need. These are called turnkey kitchens; they can help you launch and grow your restaurant more quickly and affordably.

Flexible menu

The days of updating and reprinting physical menus are long gone thanks to ghost kitchens. They enable you to change menu items more quickly than in a physical location. It’s simple to replace a menu item online with another, for example, if you notice that you’re out of a key ingredient or that a menu item isn’t performing well. Most ghost kitchens have some sort of online menu editor that allows you to make these changes with the click of a button.

Disadvantages of Ghost Kitchens

As with every other business undertaking, there are some drawbacks that should be considered before starting a ghost kitchen.

Limited brand visibility

Because they have no physical location, ghost kitchens may struggle to build a strong brand identity. This means that there is a strong reliance on marketing the restaurant using strategies such as word of mouth and inserting flyers in takeaway bags.

Dependency on third-party platforms

Relying on third-party platforms might be a necessary evil when operating a ghost kitchen. High commission costs from using these delivery platforms might have a negative effect on company margins.

These expenses can be eliminated by using an in-house online ordering system that allows you to keep all the profits for yourself.

Heavy reliance on restaurant technology

Technology plays a major role in a ghost kitchen’s ability to process orders, manage inventory, and communicate with customers. Operations can be impacted by technical problems or interruptions. To lessen the impact of these interruptions, we recommend using a reliable online ordering system.

How to Start a Ghost Kitchen

Now that we have discussed the advantages and potential pitfalls of starting a ghost kitchen, let’s dive into the actual steps you need to take to successfully open one.

Do market research

It’s very important to carry out in-depth market research before entering the ghost kitchen industry. Determine who your target market is, research competitors, and find out what kinds of cuisines are in demand in your area. This is going to help you understand the market and the needs of consumers.

Identify your niche

Choose a specialty or cuisine that appeals to your target audience‘s tastes. You can differentiate yourself from the competition and develop a unique selling point by specializing in a particular cuisine. Try something different or improve upon a popular idea. Be innovative by combining various cuisines.

Choose your location

Unlike traditional restaurants, ghost kitchens do not require a space that has a storefront. Most virtual kitchens do not attract customers from outside a certain range, so your best bet would be to select a high-density area.

Select a location that has the infrastructure you require and can accommodate your operating needs. Make sure the kitchen is set up for maximum efficiency and invest in high-quality appliances.

Another option would be to lease a commercial kitchen that is already outfitted with the latest restaurant equipment.

Obtain licenses/permits and legal compliance

Ghost kitchens are subject to the same rules and many of the same licenses that apply to restaurants. Laws and regulations vary based on your geographical location so learn the local laws and obtain the required licenses and permits. It is essential that you conform to health and safety regulations, even when using a virtual kitchen.

Establish an online presence

Develop a powerful online presence to connect with your intended audience. Creating a user-friendly restaurant website is a good place to start. Your website is going to act like your restaurant’s lobby/waiting area because it is the first thing your potential customers are going to see. Your ghost kitchen website should be:

  • Highly responsive so it looks good on all devices.
  • Optimized for on-page restaurant SEO, so it ranks higher in Google searches.
  • Contain an Order Online button, so customers can place food orders.
  • Have links to your social media accounts, so your clients can interact with you online.

Ghost kitchens can sell almost any type of cuisine. The ultimate goal of the menu should be to provide the best quality food with the utmost convenience. Craft a menu that reflects your niche and appeals to your target audience. Consider factors like delivery-friendly packaging and the ability to maintain food quality during transit.

Write mouthwatering menu descriptions and include loads of pictures of your meals.

Here is a step-by-step guide to creating an online menu with built-in food ordering suitable for ghost kitchens:

Decide on suitable restaurant technology

Remember, your customers will be placing orders solely online, so having the right technology to streamline your operations is paramount to your restaurant’s success. The technology you choose should include:


While ghost kitchens are profitable and appear easy to run, they exist in a very competitive space in the restaurant industry. Consider the advantages and disadvantages before learning how to start a ghost kitchen. Create a plan using the tips provided and prepare for any challenges that may arise. The secret to success is to adapt to the needs of the target audience and location, as each market and business model may have different challenges.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Keith Pascal
Keith Pascal

Keith is an online marketing specialist with a particular skill set that helps his clients build and maintain their brands. He prides himself in creating content that allows restaurant owners to navigate the tricky waters of the restaurant industry.