Nothing beats the experience of fine dining at a spectacular venue - cozy or intimate, simple or sophisticated, restaurants around the world have been providing the experience to diners wanting an escape from everyday life for a long time. Culinary experiences of all sorts have been enjoyed around a dining table creating great memories until now. The joy of eating out came crashing down when restaurants were forced to close their doors leaving consumers with few or nil choices.
While some food joints such as KFC and pizza outlets were already providing home delivery meals on top of their dine-in experience, door closing didn’t really affect their business.
The concept of ghost kitchens, which had been around for some time became more of an option for consumers. With on-again, off-again lockdowns due to the pandemic, consumers were becoming more prone to ordering online and having their meals delivered to them without ever having to leave the comfort of their homes.
The price of real estate is seeing ghost kitchens becoming more and more popular because patrons aren’t able to help sustain the opening of the restaurants. People who want to own a restaurant don't always have the money to spend on an expensive building in a great location. There is the added benefit of low overheads when operating a ghost kitchen because of minimal outlays on staffing with minimal demand on labor and no service costs.
Restaurants around the globe are adapting rather rapidly with this model and for some restaurants, business is thriving. But from a consumer perspective, the coming of age of the millennials, with a strong demand for digital and mobile-friendly solutions, the ghost kitchen will gain momentum. It’s a different story for the baby boomers. There is a significant percentage of people who are old-fashioned diners preferring an experience and ghost kitchens will not suffice to meet this demand.
In my opinion, ghost kitchen is and will play a significant role in the new normal where cost-effectiveness is a focus but dine-in experiences will return, with the primary focus on themed setups for those adventurous diners.
Consumers will drive the demand for such, prompting unique experiences, which will ultimately lead to more dining out in the distant future. For now, ghost kitchen setups will pop up to keep the industry alive and the consumers satisfied. This debate will continue for as long as it takes while people are having to deal with the impact the pandemic is having on them.
In conclusion, there will be a return of the dine-in experience with a twist but ghost kitchens are here to stay with smart food production and purchasing for reduced food wastage, driving the dollar further. The millennials are already loving it. As for the baby boomers, the experience of dining out is still in demand and shall be the case. Admittedly, the pandemic is posing restrictions on this option for now but the new normal will enhance this. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg of innovation in this sector.
No doubt the industry experts will be brainstorming on how to meet the consumer demands whether via ghost kitchen trends or the old-fashioned dine-in experience. Either way, the food industry will not die a natural death instead we as consumers will just have to adjust accordingly.
A hotelier and restauranteur with more than two decades of experience in the F&B and Hospitality industries, Sachin Pabreja is Co-founder of EazyDiner, India’s only instant table reservation platform. He is passionate about changing the landscape of the Indian F&B industry. Prior to EazyDiner, Sachin worked at The Imperial, Grand Hyatt as well as Claridges Hotel in New Delhi and remains focussed and committed to creating innovative and exceptional products in the F&B and Hospitality industries.
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