With the advent of the pandemic, more and more restaurants have been looking for more feasible business models such as cloud kitchens. Government restrictions on in-house dining, steep rental costs, and high utility bills together make this business model extremely appealing.
Ghost Kitchens, often referred to as Cloud Kitchens or Virtual Restaurants are essentially restaurant establishments that don’t offer a seating area to customers. Instead, they serve as basic kitchens for restaurants that focus on prepping food and beverages to send out to customers. All orders are received online either through third-party food delivery apps such as Swiggy and Zomato or via a restaurant’s own online ordering system. The last one year has seen more and more people switch to opting for food delivery, often because they simply don’t have a choice. Ghost kitchens have thus become increasingly popular, and they help restaurant owners all over the world cut costs and simplify operations.
In this article, we’re going to cover all the essential steps you need to go over if you’d like to set up a cloud kitchen.
The first and foremost step is to pick a location for your kitchen. Now here’s the thing- while “location, location, location” may be the mantra for a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant to prosper, this is hardly the case for cloud kitchens. You don’t have to spend a ton of money paying rent in a ritzy neighborhood to attract customers. Instead, all you need to keep in mind is that your restaurant is set in an area with good connectivity-about 5 to 6 km from target audiences. This could be a student-dominated area or just a popular suburb.
Once you’ve settled on a location, it’s time to get it set up. First, create a rough layout of the kitchen plan. Decide where the freezer is going to be, the structure of the packaging station, and so on. You could always take professional help for this job as it’s important to get it right. Once you have a blueprint ready, it’s time to procure all the kitchen equipment you need. When it comes to appliances such as ovens, mixers, or freezers, make sure you do your research before making these investments. Next, buy utensils such as woks, ladles, saucepans, and everything that your chefs would need in order to prepare menu items.
When you’re done setting up the cloud kitchen, you have to find the right staff. Look for qualified chefs and sous chefs that have experience related to the cuisine you want to offer. Talk about the vision you have for your cloud kitchen with them and explain what you’re looking for. Once you’ve found the right employees for your venture, make sure to devote the time and resources to train them. This involves teaching them how to use your POS system, instructing them on how to receive online orders as well as other processes such as inventory management and waste disposal.
Each state and country has different legal requirements for restaurants to go over. On the basis of where you’re located, you need to find out all the licenses and permits you need to acquire before you can open your restaurant. This includes an FSSAI license, fire safety license, certificate of environmental clearance, and much more. Keep in mind that for some of these licenses, it can take a fair bit of time before they’re issued. It’s also important to keep tabs on license renewals annually.
Setting up online ordering is one of the most important factors while starting a cloud kitchen. Now, you have two options- partnering with food delivery apps or launching your own app or website. The first option often makes it easier for more and more people to find out about your restaurant, but at the cost of hefty commissions. The second might involve more trial and error before you get it right, but is much more cost-effective in the long run. It’s a good idea to get in touch with app developers who have experience in designing online ordering apps for restaurants. You also need to settle on a smart restaurant POS system to make this whole process a lot easier for you and your staff.
It’s no secret that customers love food delivery. What is there not to like about getting your favourite food delivered to you, without having to move from the comfort of your own house? However, there is one thing that can dampen this happiness- a food order getting cold and soggy. So how do you avoid this? It’s easy- effective packaging. Make sure you pick strong, quality packaging material that can keep food warm for at least up to an hour, till it reaches your customers. You’ll also have to ensure you have stocks of different kinds of containers for various dishes, depending on their texture and temperature. Another aspect to focus on is designing your packaging in a way that is attractive and emphasizes your brand logo. Choosing eco-friendly materials and sustainable cutlery is also a great way to show your customers that your restaurant cares about the environment.
To spread the word about your cloud kitchen, you need to have an effective marketing strategy in place. Study your competition, what your customers prefer, what they don’t like, and other consumer habits. Build a strong online presence on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Focus on engaging your customers with enticing pictures of food, polls, interesting blog articles, and so on. You could also invite user-generated content and feature it on your online profiles.
Food delivery is witnessing a dramatic jump today and it’s important that you cater to ever-growing customer expectations. Setting up a cloud kitchen might take up considerable time and investment, but if you do it right, you can expect higher profits in the long run.