Virtual restaurants have increasingly become popular not only among consumers but also among traditional restaurant owners. Virtual restaurants are also known as ghost restaurants or cloud kitchen, and they are not the traditional brick and mortar restaurants. Ghost restaurants leverage on innovative digital applications to offer a delivery-only food service to their customers. Ordering food online rather than dining at a physical restaurant is a trend that has become the norm over the recent years. Advancement in digital technology in the food delivery ecosystem and digital payments coupled with the aforementioned change in consumer behavior makes it a perfect time to launch your own virtual restaurant. This is a guide on what you need to know about starting a virtual restaurant.
How does a Virtual Restaurant work?
Firstly, cloud kitchens are located in a centralized and licensed facility, which does food production. You rent space in the facility where you prepare food for your consumers from the said licensed facility. It is more like a technological incubator but for restaurants where multiple brands and restaurants carry out their food production under one roof. The facility contains food processing and cooking essentials such as hood vents, stoves, stainless steel prep tables, sinks and ovens. The virtual restaurant provides a menu online, where customers are able to order and have the food delivered by third party Apps such as Uber Eats
Identify your Target Market
Even though the food delivery market has grown exponentially over the last five years, there is still stiff competition. Therefore, it is important to do a sort of market analysis and identify your niche market. Understand what consumers want and what other business are doing wrong. Additionally, understand what cuisines have the highest demand or an area that other restaurants have not fully exploited. Your target market could range from students, vegans, stay-at-home mothers and busy professionals.
Find a Commercial Kitchen space
One cannot simply sell food to consumers without the necessary licenses from the local authority. This is why you need to find a legally licensed commercial kitchen space. Rent kitchen space by visiting Occupyd, to get either shared kitchens that rent by the hour or day. You are able to rent kitchen space by zip code or city, therefore, you get kitchen space that is closest to your location. As stated earlier, a commercial kitchen space has all the essentials you need for food preparation such as ovens and stoves before packing the food for delivery. Additionally, it is important for you to be aware of some of the requirements commercial kitchens will demand you meet. Firstly, the restaurants needs to be registered with the relevant authorities and has a business license. Secondly, you must be a certified food handler, a certificate gained from relevant authority within the country.
Liaise with service providers
The most important service providers for a virtual restaurant are the third party Apps, which provide food delivery services. You have to identify the Apps that are popular among consumers and operate within your city. Additionally, there is need to cooperate with a company that offers digital payment service solutions. Digital payment is important for a virtual restaurant as it through them that you will conduct the financial transactions for your restaurants. Additionally, leverage on data provided by these digital platforms to make an informed decision based on market analysis. Lastly, you will also need to find a supplier for your ingredients.
Benefits of having a virtual restaurant
First, latest consumer trends indicate and paint a picture of increased consumer spending on online food delivery. Virtual restaurants provide you with the opportunity to benefit from this trend by having a share of this increased spending. Second, the virtual restaurant industry has very few barriers to entry, making it easier to launch business compared to traditional restaurant business. Third, you save costs, which you would have otherwise incurred with the traditional brick and mortar restaurants. Your rent costs are lower compared to those a physical restaurant. Fourth, virtual restaurants have lower overhead costs such as electricity bills and staff wages. Lastly, virtual restaurants give you the opportunity to have insights about the market based on data analysis.