“Ghost Restaurants” With No Tables Thrive On Delivery Apps

Image courtesy of 吉姆 Jim Hofman

What is a “restaurant”? If an establishment that serves food has no tables and no storefront, is it a restaurant at all? Thanks to delivery apps, in expensive large cities, restaurants can launch with only a kitchen, a menu, and a delivery driver.

That’s great news for anyone who wants to launch a restaurant, but might mean that you can’t take your friends out to your favorite restaurant for lunch. A company in New York City, Green Summit, operates fourteen different restaurant brands that have no dining rooms.

That was as of press time when Fast Company hit “publish” on their article about the ghost restaurant industry; the company could very well have more restaurants by now.

Green Summit claimed to Crain’s New York that a failed new virtual restaurant costs around $25,000, while investors in a traditional big-city eatery can expect to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars if it fails.

For companies like Green Summit, launching a new “restaurant” could be as simple as reconfiguring ingredients it already stocks for its other brands. For example, it was easy for the company to get into the business of selling poke, a traditional Hawaiian fish salad, since its kitchens already had most the ingredients needed.

Another ghost restaurant business model licenses recipes from restaurants that don’t want to offer delivery. Instead of picking up entrées from those establishments, the company Good Uncle just makes its own version in its own commissary kitchens. True to the ghost restaurant model, the kitchen just supplies the company’s delivery business, which it’s test-marketing on students at Syracuse University.

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