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Ghost restaurants
and the network
solutions they
need to operate

Author: Gary Hilson

Until around 2015, no one would have asked, "What is a cloud kitchen?" But the rise of the ghost restaurant was inevitable with the increased demand for online takeout delivery and drive-through pickup.

A ghost restaurant is a virtual restaurant, also referred to as a ghost kitchen, cloud kitchen, or dark restaurant, with the ability to make and deliver food on demand. It could be that a traditional restaurant has pivoted to online ordering and delivery in response to the pandemic’s indoor dining restrictions. It could be in response to a change in customer behaviors. Or it could be an entrepreneurial venture by a chef who wants to build a regular clientele without standing up a restaurant.

Asking, "What is a cloud kitchen?" inevitably leads to evaluating the communications infrastructure necessary to support a ghost restaurant. This includes channels to engage with customers, flexible ordering and point of sale (POS) systems over secure, high-speed networking.

What is a cloud kitchen?

A ghost restaurant specializes in delivery or drive-through orders without the operating costs associated with a conventional brick-and-mortar restaurant. Although it's a professional food preparation and cooking facility, a cloud kitchen may not be a specific restaurant brand. It can be set up to serve multiple restaurants, allowing an entrepreneurial chef to introduce their talent to diners more affordably by sharing the costs and overhead with other chefs.

A ghost restaurant can also embrace the latest technologies to better manage food supply chains, monitor food safety and handling, and improve efficiency with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, smart appliances and sensors. But like any restaurant, it still needs to be able to easily take orders and facilitate payment.

Available POS solutions include a simple e-commerce website that can accept any type of payment. The customer can choose when and where the food is ultimately delivered through a portable device, whether it's swiping, tapping, signing or putting in their pin—all with the option of a printed receipt. A POS solution provider can provide a robust platform to support dynamic menus, fast connectivity, security and even more interactive communications with customers.

Connect and cook with cloud networking

While there is still a need for interaction between staff and customers, a key aspect of what makes a ghost or cloud kitchen unique is the different dynamic between the restaurant and the diner.

Communications tools, such as One Talk, provide business grade features such as Auto Receptionist, which answers incoming calls and, if no one is available to take the call, allows the caller to leave a message or select from a predefined option menu for the department or person they wish to speak with. In addition to the convenience of having a single point of contact, communications tools open new interaction possibilities with diners, enabling them to engage with restaurants in new and creative ways.

Ghost restaurants that are successful have the flexibility to easily add or drop services as necessary without any disruptions that might compromise the customer experience. Thus, delivering on the new and differentiated dining experience that ghost kitchens promise requires network agility, new technologies such as mobile workforce solutions and flexible, enhanced communications tools.

Whether it's emerging communication technologies, online ordering platforms or POS solutions, a ghost restaurant needs high-speed internet and reduced latency times to ensure a satisfying customer experience that's on par with its quality cuisine.

Discover how Verizon can enhance communication and restaurant operations in cloud kitchens.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.

FAQ

A ghost kitchen, or cloud kitchen concept refers to restaurants with no physical location, including no parking lot or dining room, that primarily serve food through delivery or drive-thru methods.

Rather than dining on the premises, food can be picked up or delivered—either by the establishment or a food service application—for off-premises enjoyment.

The benefits of a ghost kitchen include less overhead and operating costs with a smaller area for food preparation only, more room for food preparation, and less food waste.