September 2, 2022 The Print Authority

How To Start a Ghost Kitchen & Market It Successfully

Opening your own ghost kitchen is an exciting adventure that combines culinary art with business acumen. One of the first steps to getting your ghost kitchen up and running is developing a smart business plan and a creative marketing strategy.

But what is a ghost kitchen, and how do you create a successful one? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how to start a ghost kitchen and have fun throughout the process!

What Is a Ghost Kitchen?

Ghost kitchens, also known as virtual kitchens, are businesses that prepare and deliver food but don’t have a brick-and-mortar restaurant. If you’ve ordered restaurant food from a delivery app such as DoorDash and then realized that the restaurant doesn’t offer any in-person dining, there’s a good chance that you’ve ordered from a ghost kitchen or virtual restaurant.

Ghost kitchens are a quickly-growing subset of the restaurant industry. Take a look at these statistics that demonstrate their impact on the food service sector:

  • 60% of Americans order delivery or takeout once a week. People are constantly ordering food delivery, so opening your own ghost kitchen lets you cash in on this opportunity.
  • The global ghost kitchen market is projected to be worth $71.4 billion by 2027. Clearly, this quickly-growing market is worth your attention.
  • By 2030, ghost kitchens are predicted to contribute to 50% of global drive-through and food takeaway services. Starting a ghost kitchen is a smart business move that will pay off in the long run!

Some ghost kitchens share a kitchen or a parent company with well-known in-person restaurants. For example, Conviction Chicken is operated by TGI Fridays.

The ghost kitchen concept became increasingly popular during the COVID-19 pandemic when in-person dining at traditional restaurants experienced a decrease in popularity, and its popularity has only increased since then. When many more people ordered their food online, restaurants realized that they could save overhead costs and space by only cooking and delivering food rather than offering dine-in experiences.

How To Start a Ghost Kitchen

Like other businesses, starting a ghost kitchen is about making well-informed plans and adjusting them when needed. The process might feel overwhelming, but don’t worry; by following these steps, you’ll be well on your way.

Pick an Angle

Every great restaurant has a specialty. One of the first steps to opening a successful ghost kitchen is deciding on your preferred cuisine.

When deciding on a ghost kitchen specialty, remember that a great kitchen is unique and memorable. Diners have many choices when they want to order food, so creating a theme and menu that stands out is a must.

Many ghost kitchens focus on menu items that are easy to transport and can travel well, such as sandwiches, wraps, and chicken wings. However, the sky’s the limit! If you have a great idea, go for it, and diners will enjoy your passion.

Find the Funding

The most important start to any new business, ghost kitchen or not, is the funding and business plan. All businesses need a solid strategy to ensure initial cash flow and get off the ground.

Luckily, there are many resources to help you create your restaurant’s business plan. Online resources even offer restaurant business plan templates to help you get your ideas together.

If getting the funding to get your ghost kitchen started seems like a stumbling block, remember that there are many different methods to get the funding you need. Some of the most common funding sources include:

  • Bank loans
  • Business incubators
  • Angel investors
  • Loans from family, friends, and community members
  • Personal investments

Location, Location, Location

Choosing a location for your ghost kitchen is vital to your success. Traditional dine-in restaurants require locations that diners will want to come to, which is not a concern for a ghost kitchen. On the other hand, choose a location that allows for quick and easy delivery throughout your city or region.

Some great ghost kitchen locations are:

  • In a centrally-located part of town so that drivers can reach all neighborhoods quickly
  • Near a highway or interstate, so that drivers can get travel further distances in less time
  • In or near residential neighborhoods so that drivers are close to the neighborhoods where they’ll be delivering food

Whichever location you choose, make sure that it allows for quick and easy access to your customers. Once you develop your business plan and brainstorm intended target demographics, you can then choose a location that allows for maximum ease of delivery.

As well, be sure to choose a location with ample kitchen space. If the location does not already have a kitchen, remember that you will need to foot the cost to install the kitchen and equipment you need.

Regulations and Health

Even though you do not serve food directly to diners at your ghost kitchen, you still must adhere to all local health and safety laws. Food safety is every restaurant’s top priority, as it is both a legal requirement and makes customers feel comfortable eating your food.

Remember that you need at least all of the following permits and regulations to start a ghost kitchen:

  • Business license
  • Food service license
  • Food handling permit
  • Liquor license, if you plan to offer alcohol
  • Seller’s permit
  • Resale permit

As you’re creating your business plan, make sure to research the license requirements in your area.

Get Cooking!

Once you’ve sorted out your ghost kitchen’s angle, funding, location, and permits, it’s time to fire up the grill and start cooking! Establish partnerships with third-party delivery services such as DoorDash and UberEats, and you’re ready to market your kitchen and get started!

How To Market a Ghost Kitchen

Once you’ve fully developed your business plan, it’s time to focus on how to market a ghost kitchen. Ghost kitchens have unique marketing opportunities, particularly by including branding on your food packaging and letting your products speak for themselves. When new diners eat your delicious food, they’ll then want to order again!

Here are some of the best ideas about how to market a ghost kitchen that keeps diners ordering again and again.

Custom Labels

Ghost kitchen

Printing your own custom labels for food containers lets you add a personal touch to your products.

When diners receive a bag full of unlabeled food items, they must unbox or unwrap all of the items to discover what they ordered. Including labels for food containers lets all diners know which item is which.

As well, custom labels for food containers can provide allergen information. You can mark items containing common allergens, either with custom labels or with checkboxes for common allergens, so that the food preparation staff can note exactly which items contain which ingredients.

Labels come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you can design the label that best fits your needs. You can also choose which paper you’d prefer, giving you the freedom to choose a shiny label that draws attention or a matte label that the kitchen team can write notes on.

Custom Stickers

Ghost kitchen

Adding custom stickers to your food packaging reminds diners that your restaurant made their delicious food. Never let satisfied customers forget where their new favorite dish came from!

You have some choices when it comes to stickers for food containers. If you want to keep it simple, only include your ghost kitchen’s name and logo. If you want to add more information, add a request to leave an online review; positive reviews encourage new customers to place orders, so amassing as many positive reviews as possible is a priority.

Stickers for food containers are the perfect places to showcase your branding. If you want help creating a memorable logo, ask the experienced design team at The Print Authority for help.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a vital component of starting any new business, so developing a social media strategy can make or break your ghost kitchen’s success. Focus on a few key strategies:

  • Maintaining an active social media presence. Post regularly, and respond to all reviews and questions that you receive.
  • Purchasing ads. Paid online ads help potential diners learn about you. You can purchase ads on Facebook, Instagram, Google, and even delivery services such as DoorDash and UberEats. Seeing your tasty offerings will encourage people to try your food.
  • Encouraging influencer marketing. Reach out to social media personalities who cater to your target demographics. Popularity is powerful, and people listen to each other, so encouraging posts by social media figures will lead to new orders.
  • Using professional photography. As we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is particularly true when it comes to photos of food. Including delicious, professionally-taken photos of your dishes will make people’s mouths water and impel them to place an order.

QR Code Menu Marketing

QR codes, short for quick response codes, are small black and white barcodes that quickly and easily redirect readers to a website of your choice. QR codes are massively useful for ghost kitchens, as you can include a QR code on your marketing materials and even your stickers for food containers that link readers to your menu. Therefore, they can immediately explore all the dishes you offer and find more plates to try.

Make Custom Labels and Stickers With The Print Authority

Understanding how to start a ghost kitchen is an exciting process, and The Print Authority provides all of the printed materials your ghost kitchen needs to succeed. We print labels and stickers in all shapes and sizes, and we love preparing custom orders (flyers, business cards, review cards, and more) that help our clients make a profit.

Our expert graphic design team can help you create stickers and labels for food containers that make an impression on your diners and keep them coming back for more. To get started, contact us today!