Convenience is king in today’s fast-paced, technologically advanced world. The demand for quicker, more efficient service has led to delivery-only restaurants popping up in most major cities across the U.S. Experts forecast food delivery sales to grow annually by nearly 20% to reach $365 billion worldwide in 2030, so now is the best time to open a delivery-only restaurant.
This ultimate delivery-only restaurant guide outlines exactly what a virtual kitchen is, how a virtual restaurant works, the many virtual restaurant benefits and what you need to consider before opening your own. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how to start a virtual restaurant.
What Is a Virtual Restaurant?
Virtual restaurants, also called ghost restaurants, dark kitchens and cloud kitchens, offer consumers a delivery-only dining experience through digital applications and other third-party services. A virtual restaurant doesn’t have a dine-in location. It exists only on online platforms and rents a commercial kitchen space.
Digital ordering and delivery are growing 300% more than dine-in traffic, and virtual restaurants meet this rise in demand by making their food available only through delivery. Virtual restaurants capitalize on the desire for convenience by offering a no-hassle, quick way for consumers to receive delicious food without ever leaving the house.
Virtual restaurants are typically stand-alone operations, but the concept is flexible. Some brick and mortar restaurants also rent ghost kitchen space to offer delivery options to a larger area. More restaurants may offer their menu to a broader area as delivery’s popularity continues to grow.
How Does a Virtual Restaurant Work?
A delivery-only restaurant offers its customers a more convenient way to dine by allowing them to place and pay for their orders completely online. After a customer places an order, the restaurant workers receive the notification to begin preparing the food. Once the order is ready, the restaurant’s food delivery service transports it to the customer’s specified location.
Many virtual restaurants work with a third-party service to make their menu more widespread and accessible, so some of their expenses go toward maintaining these partnerships. Delivery-only restaurants also develop a distinct virtual brand to reach more customers and generate brand loyalty.
Virtual restaurants cut their expenses and overhead by operating through technology and eliminating the need to hire workers to wait on customers, clean the dining room, wash dishes or coordinate table reservations. Restaurant owners avoid many of the costs that come with running a traditional restaurant, which means they get to concentrate more on crafting and delivering excellent food.
Benefits of a Virtual Restaurant
A virtual restaurant business plan has numerous advantages. The five main benefits of a delivery-only restaurant include:
- Dependable demand: Virtual restaurant owners can count on dependable demand for their services — business on food delivery apps more than doubled in 2020, with the main four platforms collectively rising by $3 billion in revenue.
- Flexibility: A virtual restaurant can roam wherever the market is most lucrative because it is not tied to a brick and mortar location.
- Reduced expenses: A virtual restaurant enjoys lower overhead costs than a traditional restaurant because there’s no need to hire front-of-house staff, rent a large property or factor table turnover into the bottom line.
- Increased profit margin: A virtual restaurant makes more profit from each sale and has less capital at risk due to its reduced overhead costs and lower initial investment.
- Innovation: Virtual restaurants can test new concepts more easily than more established traditional restaurants since the delivery trend is still developing.
What to Consider When Starting a Delivery-Only Restaurant
If the benefits of running a virtual restaurant appeal to you, consider these seven key factors before opening up for business:
- Plan your concept: The first step in opening a virtual restaurant is optimizing it for delivery. Food delivery revolves around time and temperature — streamline your restaurant’s systems to ensure every order gets delivered on time and as fresh as possible. You also need to identify your restaurant’s niche to ensure you bring something unique to the to-go food market. Try to think of an under-served demographic and cater to them.
- Create a delivery-friendly menu: In the wrong conditions, hot food gets cold, frozen food melts, and crispy food gets soggy. Plan a menu of items that travel well to avoid delivering stale food.
- Map out a marketing campaign: Build your brand by creating an eye-catching logo, developing a website and promoting your services on various social media platforms. A social media account allows you to interact directly with customers to encourage brand loyalty and solicit feedback.
- Pick your packaging: The right packaging protects your customers’ orders while in transit and promotes your virtual restaurant’s brand. Choose sturdy packaging that keeps food secure and use branded items like tamper-free stickers with your logo to make your packaging stand out.
- Choose your delivery service partners: Third-party platforms like UberEats, DoorDash or Grubhub connect you with a wider audience and lead to more sales. These platforms charge a commission for their services. Each service provider has slightly different charges so you can choose the one that fits best with your budget.
- Find a virtual kitchen: Your restaurant needs to operate out of a licensed commercial kitchen to sell food legally. Renting kitchen space has grown more popular as the trend in delivery-only restaurants surges. Virtual restaurants can rent these commercial kitchens by the hour, day or month as a convenient, clean place to prepare their orders.
- Obtain all of your licenses: You need all your paperwork in order before partnering with most commercial kitchens. This process typically includes applying for a business license, getting certified as a safe food handler, acquiring liability insurance and applying for inspection from the health department. Once you’re approved on all these accounts, you’re ready to open your virtual restaurant.
Rent Commercial Kitchen Space From Revolving Kitchen
If you want to start a virtual restaurant, Revolving Kitchen has space for you to prepare your delicious menu items for delivery. Revolving Kitchen is a fully equipped, clean cloud kitchen that provides virtual restaurant owners with a convenient and cost-effective option for renting commercial kitchen space. Revolving Kitchen accommodates the virtual restaurant trend by offering high-quality modern kitchen amenities.
Cloud kitchens enable restaurants to expand their delivery opportunities and increase their revenue. Whether you’re opening your first delivery-only restaurant or adding on to your restaurant’s existing delivery options, Revolving Kitchen has the kitchen space you need for both long-term use and short-term rentals.
For top-notch commercial kitchen space in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, contact Revolving Kitchen about scheduling a facility tour.