October 5, 2020

Restaurant Dive: Ghost kitchen series kicks off today exploring how the pandemic sped up the market '5 years in 3 months'

The pandemic has upended the restaurant industry's traditional revenue stream, leaving operators scrambling to grow off-premise channels as dining rooms across the country remain under capacity restrictions and fixed rent costs keep business on a knife's edge.

This recent surge in delivery demand has primed ghost kitchens for serious growth. Restaurants in crisis and industry experts alike have pointed to the budding segment made up of delivery-only, storefront-free foodservice concepts as a way for operators to grow with low overhead and prepare for a digital future.

By 2030, ghost kitchens could represent a $1 trillion global business, Euromonitor predicts. And while this market has been gaining traction in the U.S. for years, there is still a long runway ahead. There are only 1,500 U.S. ghost kitchens, for example, compared to more than 7,500 in the more advanced China market.

But are ghost kitchens really on their way to becoming a mainstream, if not dominant, restaurant channel? And what risks come with the opportunity they promise restaurants? Restaurant Dive aims to answer these questions and more in a six-part series on all things ghost kitchens, which kicks off today with a look at how the pandemic has accelerated this market "5 years in 3 months."

Over the next five weeks, we will also be rolling out stories that explore how much these concepts cost and what it takes to make them profitable, the major brands and independent operators that have launched ghost kitchens during the pandemic and what a more advanced ghost kitchen market would look like in the U.S. You can access all of these articles here for a comprehensive look at how this segment is evolving.

To read Restaurant Dives series on the rise of ghost kitchens and other restaurant industry news, sign up for your free subscription here .