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What is a ghost kitchen?

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    While it may sound like it's from the paranormal realm, there's nothing spooky about a ghost kitchen. Ghost kitchens are essentially restaurants that operate through take-out and delivery only, with no brick-and-mortar presence. Often featuring ever-changing menus, ghost kitchens could be a good way to add a little excitement to the nights you don't feel like cooking.

    How does a ghost kitchen work

    So how does a ghost kitchen work exactly? Ghost kitchens are simply food preparation locations. When you come across a ghost kitchen online or in a food delivery app, you likely won't even notice a difference between it and any other restaurant. However, these “restaurants” don't employ servers or hosts and there's no dining room or bar. 

    These kitchens are sometimes shared between multiple restaurants and are often located on the outskirts of town — there's no reason to splurge on an expensive downtown storefront if customers won't be visiting. Between a shorter staff, shared expenses and alternative locations, ghost kitchens can offer chefs an opportunity to provide a creative menu without the overhead costs of owning an actual restaurant. 

    One of the fun things about ghost kitchens is their ability to rebrand and change up their menu as often as they'd like. This increased flexibility to play with a menu means it will reach a variety of customers as different menus will appeal to different people. It also means that customers will never get bored. 

    It's not clear when exactly ghost kitchens got started, but the concept has really taken off over the past few years as demands for food delivery service have increased. It's likely that, as long as delivery apps remain popular and people continue to enjoy take-out, ghost kitchens will keep growing in popularity.

    Benefits of a ghost kitchen

    Ghost kitchens can be a fun way to enjoy the restaurant scene in your city. Ghost kitchens exist solely online, which means rebranding or changing its fare is as simple as a website update. This flexibility gives ghost kitchen operators much more freedom in what goes on the menu from week to week or even day to day. 

    You may find that a ghost kitchen's website has multiple “restaurants” listed as part of its offerings. This is because a ghost kitchen can employ multiple chefs with different specialties to offer a wide variety of cuisines. They may even employ a pastry chef, meaning instead of choosing from three or four desserts, you'll have a full menu to satisfy any sweet tooth craving. 

    In addition to the excitement of an oft-rotating menu and wide range of expertise, food from a ghost kitchen may be more affordable than more traditional restaurants. The lack of storefront and front-of-house costs can mean lower costs for actual menu items. 

    Having these options at your fingertips and delivered to your door is another major benefit of a ghost kitchen. You're able to try different cuisines and menu items from the comfort of your own home, made by a restaurant that, by default, specializes in delivery. You don't have to change out of your pajamas, find a place to park or do any dirty dishes — just order away and enjoy.

    How to find a ghost kitchen

    Nearly as elusive as the paranormal entities they're named for, ghost kitchens can be hard to find, especially because they're not always called ghost kitchens. Other names that refer to the same concept include virtual kitchen, shadow kitchen and commissary kitchen. 

    If you're itching to specifically try a ghost kitchen, you'll likely have to do a little research to find one. It won't be obvious when you're scrolling through your take-out app, because on online platforms there's usually no difference between a traditional restaurant and a ghost kitchen. Search online for ghost kitchens in your city and check out the results to find one. You may want to ask your friends and social media audience if they know of a ghost kitchen you can try. 

    Some ghost kitchens only exist within the third-party food delivery apps, so that is where you will have to place your order. However, many also build their own websites to provide a fuller experience and reduce the fees associated with third-party apps. Once you order either online or through an app, you'll likely just need to provide your address for delivery. However, some ghost kitchens do offer curbside pickup or take-out. Be sure to check your options before you submit your order.

    What's more

    Ghost kitchens are on the rise and can offer a fun way to try many different foods at, often, lower prices than traditional restaurants. The regularly changing menu will keep you on your toes, while the delivery aspect will keep you within the comforts of your home.

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