Could Virtual Kitchens Change the Face of the Restaurant Industry?

Are restaurants dying? No. But they are becoming ghosts.

What’s the worst part about eating out at a restaurant?

No, it’s not the prices. It’s not the crowds or the long wait for a table, either. It’s not even the second-hand embarrassment you get when your partner, with a straight face, orders the Chocolate Thunder From Down Under. (Seriously. I could die.)

It’s the human contact.

After all, we can order an Uber, pay and tip the driver, all without speaking a word. We can order books, clothes, furniture…whatever, online. And now, luckily, we can order from a ton of restaurants online—this isn’t just your grandmother’s pizza or Chinese delivery, either, but everything from diners to fancy places to fast food. 

Between not having to speak to a snooty hostess about moving to a table that’s not directly under the air vent and not having to put on non-stretchy pants to get your creme brulee, could this spell trouble for the restaurant industry?

Well, probably not. The restaurant industry is still thriving. In fact, according to CBRE, the industry is still growing. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t adapted to the new industry demands.

Technology is playing a huge role. And, in an almost ripped-from-an-episode-of-Black-Mirror move (but, like, hopefully in a “San Juniper” way, and not a “Crocodile” way—though Pizza Hut is testing a mobile pizza factory, so maybe it’s already too late), ghost kitchens are becoming integrated—and integral—to the restaurant landscape.

Ghost kitchens allow for food to be prepared and delivered, but don’t physically have a storefront or dining room.

Spooky.

These “cloud-based” kitchens not only let restaurants be more efficient with their delivery orders but also have lower real estate costs. They also allow for the restaurants to offer different types of food that they don’t serve at their traditional spaces. Additionally, they take off some of the pressure from the restaurants, so the people who physically want to go will fight fewer crowds.

And restaurants are into it. There is already ghost kitchen buy-in from McDonalds. And Chik-fil-A.

So, as long as traditional restaurants embrace these trends, there’s no way they’ll give up the ghost (uggh, sorry). The industry will continue to thrive.

And people can have their filet mignon delivered to their door, and they can eat their five-course meal in sweat pants.

What a wonderful time to be alive!

Do you think anything will challenge the restaurant industry? What do you think about ghost kitchens? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @CPExecutive or @JFiur.