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Why Are Ghost Kitchens Suddenly Everywhere? A Ghost Explains

A friendly phantom’s guide to the biggest thing in restaurants.

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Unless you’ve been living in another dimension, you’ve probably heard a lot about ghost kitchens in the last year. If you haven’t figured out what they are just yet, no shade — and you’re not the only one. That’s why we got an actual ghost to break it down for you (don’t worry, they’re a total Casper).

Think: Your go-to local restaurant — your favorite haunt, if you will — only it exists solely online. You float on over to the digital storefront, place your order, and your favorite food is spirited right to your door. No fuss, no muss, no dining room that’s louder than a banshee at peak dinner service.

Ghost kitchens have been around for a while, but they’ve exploded in popularity this year. After all, in a world where more than 60% of dining revenues come from online orders, who really needs a dining room? Restaurateurs like ghost kitchens because they cut down on overhead costs: The leaner business model means there’s fewer front-of house staff to pay, and by some estimates, ghost kitchens can help restaurants save up to 50% on food costs.

Ghost kitchens help save on rent, too, which is a pretty big deal in a low-margin business. With ghost kitchens, multiple businesses can operate out of the same space — like restaurant roommates. And while traditional restaurants typically spring for real estate in expensive, high foot-traffic areas, ghost kitchens let business owners set up shop in a less pricey part of town, without taking a hit to their bottom line. Some restaurateurs find they can even expand their service area, without the high cost of opening a brand-new location.

Ghost kitchens also offer restaurateurs the freedom to innovate without being bound by a physical space, which is pretty cool (take it from someone who can walk through walls). A restless chef could transform their fried chicken restaurant into a healthy-ish grain bowl concept with just an online redesign — not a whole-space overhaul and full staff retrain.

Savings and flexibility have driven the adoption of ghost kitchens — but how’s everyone actually setting them up? The not-so-spooky secret is Square. They offer powerful tools to help you set up a snazzy online storefront, and integrate your POS, inventory, and online ordering systems so you can serve your customers better.

And since ghost kitchens lack a physical storefront, they often require a little extra marketing muscle to make them work — Square’s got that covered, too. Its suite of software tools can help you connect to your customers with targeted email and text campaigns, a Dashboard that lets you see your results in real time, and loyalty programs to help turn first-timers into regulars.

Head to Square to get started. You might want to hurry — ghost kitchens could be a trillion-dollar business by 2030. That’s like tomorrow in ghost years.

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