Guide to Ghost Kitchens and Unit Economics of Ghost Kitchens

ghost kitchens

Thinking about opening a ghost or cloud kitchen? First you have to think about unit economics, so you have a path to profitability. The unit economics for a ghost kitchen can vary depending on several factors, such as location, size of the kitchen, type of cuisine, and target market. However, there are some common expenses and revenue streams that can be considered when analyzing the unit economics of a ghost kitchen.


  1. Rent and utilities: Ghost kitchens require a physical space to operate, which incurs rent and utility expenses. These costs can vary depending on the location and size of the kitchen.
  1. Kitchen equipment: Ghost kitchens need kitchen equipment to prepare and cook food. This can include ovens, stoves, refrigerators, and other appliances. The cost of this equipment can vary depending on the size and complexity of the kitchen.
  1. Staffing: Ghost kitchens need staff to prepare and cook food, package and label orders, and manage operations. Staffing costs can include wages, benefits, and payroll taxes.
  1. Ingredients and supplies: Ghost kitchens need ingredients and supplies to prepare and cook food. These costs can vary depending on the type of cuisine and the volume of orders. Sticking a type of cuisine can help streamline your ingredients and cost, as well as helps with ordering supplies from your vendors.

Revenue streams:

  1. Sales: Ghost kitchens generate revenue by selling food to customers. This can be done through online ordering platforms, delivery services, or in-person pickup.
  1. Commissions: Online ordering platforms and delivery services often charge a commission on each order. These commissions can vary depending on the platform and the terms of the agreement.
  1. Marketing: Ghost kitchens may need to invest in marketing and advertising to attract customers. This can include social media advertising, email marketing, and other promotional activities.

Overall, the unit economics of a ghost kitchen depend on a variety of factors, and it’s essential to carefully analyze the costs and revenue streams to determine the profitability of the business.

Different Types of Ghost Kitchen Concept Choices

There are several different types of ghost kitchen concept choices that entrepreneurs can consider:

  1. Single-Brand Ghost Kitchen: A single-brand ghost kitchen focuses on one specific cuisine or menu item. For example, a pizza-only ghost kitchen that specializes in creating a variety of pizza types, toppings and flavors.
  1. Multi-Brand Ghost Kitchen: A multi-brand ghost kitchen operates several different concepts or brands under one roof. This type of ghost kitchen can cater to different customer preferences and serve multiple cuisines or menu items. For example, a ghost kitchen could have a separate brand for burgers, chicken, and tacos.
  1. Virtual Restaurant: A virtual restaurant operates exclusively through online delivery platforms and doesn’t have a physical storefront. This type of ghost kitchen can create unique or niche menu items that cater to specific customer needs or preferences. For example, a vegan-only virtual restaurant that offers plant-based burgers and salads.
  1. Kitchen as a Service (KaaS): A KaaS model allows independent chefs or restaurant owners to rent a ghost kitchen space and operate their own restaurant without the need for a physical storefront. This allows for lower startup costs and allows for testing new concepts without committing to a long-term lease.
  1. Hybrid Model: A hybrid model combines a ghost kitchen with a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant. For example, a restaurant might use a ghost kitchen to fulfill online delivery orders while maintaining a physical storefront for dine-in customers.

Overall, entrepreneurs should carefully consider the target market, location, and menu when choosing a ghost kitchen concept choice.

Pros and Cons of Ghost Kitchens

Ghost kitchens, also known as virtual kitchens, have become increasingly popular in recent years as a result of the growth of online food delivery services. Here are some of the pros and cons of ghost kitchens:


  1. Lower Overhead Costs: Ghost kitchens typically have lower overhead costs than traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants. This is because they don’t require a storefront, saving on rent, utilities, and other expenses.
  1. Flexibility: Ghost kitchens offer a high degree of flexibility for entrepreneurs. They can test out new menu items or concepts without committing to a long-term lease or significant upfront costs.
  1. Increased Reach: Ghost kitchens allow restaurants to reach a wider audience, particularly those who prefer online food delivery services. This can lead to increased revenue and growth opportunities.
  1. Streamlined Operations: Ghost kitchens often have a more streamlined operating model, as they focus primarily on preparing food for delivery. This can result in more efficient operations and reduced labor costs.


  1. Limited Customer Interaction: Ghost kitchens lack the face-to-face customer interaction that traditional restaurants offer. This can make it more difficult to build a loyal customer base.
  1. Dependence on Third-Party Delivery Services: Ghost kitchens rely heavily on third-party delivery services to deliver their food to customers. This can result in additional fees and reduced control over the delivery experience.
  1. Branding and Marketing Challenges: Without a physical storefront, ghost kitchens may find it more challenging to build a strong brand identity and market their offerings to potential customers.
  1. Equipment and Maintenance Costs: Ghost kitchens require specialized equipment and technology, which can be expensive to purchase and maintain.

Overall, ghost kitchens offer several benefits, but they also come with unique challenges that entrepreneurs should carefully consider before starting a ghost kitchen business.

How To Set Up a Ghost Kitchen

Setting up a ghost kitchen requires careful planning and execution. Here are some steps to consider when setting up a ghost kitchen:

  1. Determine Your Concept: Decide on the type of food you want to serve and the style of cuisine that best aligns with your target market. Consider the niche market and unique menu offerings to differentiate your business from others.
  1. Choose a Location: Choose a location for your ghost kitchen that is convenient for delivery services, has access to necessary utilities, and meets all necessary food safety regulations.
  1. Acquire the Necessary Permits and Licenses: Ghost kitchens need to meet all local health and safety regulations, so it’s essential to obtain all necessary permits and licenses before starting operations. This may include a food service establishment permit, a business license, and a health department inspection.
  1. Set Up Your Kitchen Space: Set up your ghost kitchen space with the necessary kitchen equipment, such as ovens, refrigerators, and workstations. It’s important to invest in high-quality equipment to ensure that your kitchen operates efficiently.
  1. Hire Staff: Hire staff with experience in the food industry, who can prepare, cook, and package food. Consider outsourcing certain services like marketing, accounting and delivery to professional service providers to focus more on kitchen operation.
  1. Create a Menu and Pricing Strategy: Develop a menu that aligns with your target market and offers competitive pricing. Researching other ghost kitchen competitors in the area will help you to create a unique menu with different pricing strategies.
  1. Partner with Food Delivery Platforms: Partner with online food delivery platforms like Uber Eats, DoorDash, Grubhub, Just Eat, Foodpanda, Zomato, Swiggy, Glovo, GrabFood, Talabat, Careem, Mr D Food, Jumia Food, Deliveroo and many more to increase the reach of your ghost kitchen. These platforms can provide you with a broader customer base and an easy way to receive orders.
  1. Develop a Marketing Plan: Develop a comprehensive marketing plan that focuses on online channels and social media platforms. Consider developing targeted online ads, email marketing campaigns, and loyalty programs.

Starting a ghost kitchen requires careful planning and execution, but with a strategic approach and a strong concept, it can be a successful venture.

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