What is a Ghost Kitchen?

March 4, 2024 — Cloudwaitress

The COVID-19 pandemic isolated everyone and nearly collapsed the traditional food vending model—the restaurant.

However, this period made another food vendor, the ghost kitchen, very popular as it took advantage of the minimal contact atmosphere. As a business that only really became popular during the pandemic, many people are curious to know: What is a ghost kitchen?

A ghost kitchen is a commercial storefront from which people can order meals online. This delivery-only restaurant is easier to start up than a regular one and mostly requires space to cook food and prepare deliveries.

Ghost kitchens come with low operating costs and allow for easy experimentation with food. Their drawbacks lie in their environmental impact and limited plating creativity.

Discover more about ghost kitchens in this article and learn why Cloudwaitress is the perfect online solution for this type of kitchen.

What is a ghost kitchen?

A ghost kitchen is a commercial kitchen that has been designed for only third-party deliveries. It’s a kitchen that doesn’t have a physical presence but only exists online, with ‘ghost menus’ that are used for deliveries.

So, such establishments would only have a few members—those who prepare food and those who prepare deliveries.

Most ghost kitchens come from already-established commercial kitchens or restaurants. This could be a restaurant that closed down or one that wanted to try out this new business model.

How do ghost kitchens work?

While the ghost kitchen meaning makes this food establishment look complex, like an online store, its working principles are simpler.

A ghost kitchen starts with a facility where the cooking can take place and commercial cooking equipment. After that, it’s to create an online brand on various delivery apps where people can go to place orders.

So, customers search online using keywords like ‘ghost kitchen near me’ to find a suitable online kitchen. When they find one, the customer logs into the site, checks their menu, and pays for a meal.

On their end, the ghost kitchen receives this order, packages this meal, and uses their delivery service to send it to the customer.

Pros of ghost kitchens

When you understand what is a ghost kitchen, it’ll be easy to see that it offers many advantages, such as:

Lower operating costs

Decorations, furniture, waiters, bartenders, bussers, and the like aren’t needed for this online kitchen. This drastically reduces the cost that’ll be spent running the business.

Low startup costs

A ghost kitchen only needs commercial cooking space and the required cooking equipment. This makes it much easier to establish than a regular restaurant.

Lower risk

With lower startup costs, owners of ghost kitchens won’t lose much even if the business doesn’t work out.

Easy experimentation

Unlike a regular restaurant, this online kitchen gives a chef enough space to get creative. They can try new cuisines or food items and include them on the menu, and the customers will appreciate the variety.

Cons of ghost kitchens

The knowledge of what is a ghost kitchen shouldn’t distract chefs from the fact that this business model has its downsides, such as:

Environmental impact

Compared to regular restaurants, ghost kitchens rely heavily on packaging their food with disposable materials. This makes it less eco-friendly.

Limited plating creativity

Since the food produced in this online kitchen gets shipped out, chefs package their meals to stay in good condition during transit. This leaves little freedom for presenting the food in a way that’s pleasing to the eye.

How does a ghost kitchen differ from a brick-and-mortar restaurant

To better answer the question, ‘What is a ghost kitchen?’, it’ll be good to see how it compares to ordinary restaurants.

  • Overhead costs: The overhead costs for creating a ghost kitchen are much lower than those for a regular restaurant.
  • Menu: Regular restaurants usually offer the same menu, with occasional changes to the dishes due to the seasons. Ghost kitchens, however, design their menu according to the needs of their customers using data analytics to great effect.
  • Delivery flow: Ghost kitchens are created specifically for seamless online delivery. Regular restaurants, however, can easily mess up their walk-in dining experience by allowing customers to order food online. Parking space can also be limited for delivery drivers in regular restaurants, leading to slower online deliveries.
  • Online customers: Regular restaurants get the bulk of their customers from people who walk into their establishment. Ghost kitchens, however, get the bulk of their customers online.

Types of ghost kitchens

After answering the question, ‘What is a ghost kitchen?’, it’s also important to know that there are many of them out there. Some of the types that people encounter online include:

Commercial kitchen

These are the industrial kitchens for large-scale orders. Commercial kitchens are rarely given to small-time chefs and are usually licensed to catering companies or restaurant brands.

Commissary kitchen

This is a super flexible, shared cooking space that’s usually given out on rent based on a time slot. It’s perfect for chefs who want to prepare meals without owning the cooking space.

Kitchen pods

Kitchen pods are mobile, unlike other cooking spaces that are primarily stationary. This ghost street kitchen usually comes as a shipping container, allowing chefs to transport their kitchen and easily meet their customers.

Incubator kitchen

This is a temporary kitchen that is usually attached to a brick-and-mortar restaurant. It could be a small kiosk, a food truck, or any other cooking space that’s prepped for online deliveries.

Incubator kitchens offer flexibility to brick-and-mortar restaurants that desire extra space to try their hands at online deliveries.

what is a ghost kitchen - cloudwaitress

How does Cloudwaitress benefit ghost kitchens?

Ghost kitchens allow chefs to operate a restaurant at a fraction of the cost, with full logistic services to complement things.

When you get a good understanding of what a ghost kitchen is, you’ll also understand the importance of an excellent online presence. This is why Cloudwaitress is so crucial to ghost kitchens, as it can provide them with this online presence.

With Cloudwaitress, every eager chef with commercial kitchen equipment can get their own ghost kitchen.

This online platform provides a digital storefront that customers can visit to order from that kitchen. This website will come bundled with everything the ghost kitchen needs to track orders, accept payments, and print receipts.

Features of Cloudwaitress

This online platform has the capability to support a ghost pizza kitchen or any type of ghost kitchen at all. Some of these features include:

  • Landing page: This functions as either the main website or the store locator page.
  • Admin dashboard: Allows restaurant owners to manage their online orders, reservations, and other settings. It’s also possible to create a staff admin account with restricted access.
  • Multi-currency: Apart from the dollar, Cloudwaitress provides support for nearly every currency in the world.
  • Bump screen technology: Offers an effective order management experience.
  • Online payments: This feature allows customers to pay directly into the ghost kitchen’s account using PayPal, Stripe, and other online payment methods.
  • Multi-language: The interface of this online ordering site is available in English and other popular languages.
  • Integrations: Social media platforms, like X, WhatsApp, Instagram, and other third-party apps, can be easily connected to the ghost kitchen website.


Ghost kitchens are digital storefronts from which people can order food, and they became popular during the pandemic. Although the pandemic is over and regular restaurants have reopened, ghost kitchens still appeal to modern customers. After all, ghost kitchens provide an easy way to order healthy food.

Knowing what a ghost kitchen is will show that it’s essential to have a good online presence to attract customers. This is where Cloudwaitress comes in, as it helps chefs get their brand out online and reach out to potential customers.

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Are cloud kitchens and ghost kitchens the same thing?

A cloud kitchen is like a ghost kitchen that has developed and expanded. So, it doesn’t deal with a delivery-only concept and could even offer catering services when the situation calls for it. Cloud kitchens also refer to ghost kitchens that have grown and franchised.

Why are ghost kitchens becoming popular?

They cater to the rising demand for food delivery services, offering restaurateurs a cost-effective way to experiment with different culinary concepts.

Does a ghost kitchen need permits and licenses to get started?

Yes, this type of kitchen needs specific permits and licenses to get established in the US. Some of these licenses include food service and business licenses, and it doesn't cost much to get them.