December 7, 2022
Lauren Platero

Virtual Brands vs. Ghost Kitchens: What’s the Difference?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between virtual brands vs. ghost kitchens? Initially, you might assume the terms are interchangeable. However, there are several distinct differences.

If you plan to become a restaurant manager or business owner, there are benefits of both styles to know about. Not only are they less expensive than traditional eateries, but they offer similar casual dining settings.

Professionals in the restaurant industry often confuse the two businesses. So, let’s break down the key traits of virtual brands vs. ghost kitchens so that you can confidently decide which business model is right for you.

Revolution Ordering

What Are Ghost Kitchens?

A ghost kitchen or ghost restaurant is a business that offers takeout only and operates from a rental. In many cases, the ghost kitchen meaning refers to hosting more than one brand.

One of the biggest differences between virtual brands vs. ghost kitchens is the physical structure. For example, there may be DoorDash ghost kitchens that serve several eateries since the establishment itself isn’t branded.

Ghost kitchens operate by renting a third-party facility to service various brands. If you rent a ghost kitchen instead of a virtual brand, you’ll be allocating more of your budget to overhead expenses rather than promotions.

On the flip side, virtual brands are simply restaurants that don’t allow customers to dine inside. However, it’s likely that they still implement numerous restaurant marketing strategies. We’ll discuss the meaning of virtual brands vs. ghost kitchens, as well as various pros and cons later on in this post.

Ghost Kitchen Menu

Since ghost kitchens service multiple brands, menu types can’t become complex. One of the biggest takeaways regarding virtual brands vs. ghost kitchens is that virtual brands don’t run into this concern. They aren’t providing for multiple brands so they can offer a much more comprehensive selection.  

Items from a ghost kitchen’s appetizer list will often consist of frozen food that is simple to serve. If these menu items are from scratch, customers might notice a limited menu.

Entree food from a ghost kitchen is where you’ll probably see the most diversity. Extensive menus will be part of servicing multiple brands. Plus, the main courses are the best-sellers.

Customers might also notice that the dessert menu is the shortest one of all. Similar to appetizers, the options will likely adhere to the basics. It’s also important to point out that consumers don’t order dessert to-go as much as they would while dining at a restaurant.

With all of this in mind, a restaurant inventory management app can do wonders for a ghost kitchen or a virtual brand. While operating this kind of restaurant, it’s important that you accurately take inventory. Plus, it’s a foolproof system to eliminate food spoilage and inventory shrinkage.

To help you save even more revenue, an app like BlueCart can allow you to scale back on restaurant expenses. For instance, conducting your daily inventory audit will dictate the reorder point. By doing so, you’ll never be left with food spoilage or inadequate stock.

Book a demo today to learn more about advanced inventory solutions.

What Are Virtual Brands?

Virtual brands are restaurants that only operate via delivery and mobile food ordering platforms. Have you ever learned that a place you enjoy getting takeout doesn’t have an actual dining room? If so, you’ve stumbled across a virtual brand.

It might be shocking that a virtual brand can survive with just a digital presence. However, it’s much simpler than you might assume!

One of the best features of virtual brands vs. ghost kitchens is that the restaurant owner can sustain a brand and image. The only downside is that you can’t attract customers to a brick and mortar eatery.

Some of the most effective restaurant marketing tips that managers of virtual brands vs. ghost kitchens can implement are as follows:

If you’re a marketing expert, there are numerous reasons to opt for virtual brands vs. ghost kitchens. And if you want to allocate a large portion of funds toward a restaurant marketing budget, this model is perfect.

Pros and Cons of Virtual Brands vs. Ghost Kitchens

With any business, there are going to be numerous pros and cons. Ensure that you consider all of your options prior to deciding between virtual brands vs. ghost kitchens.

Pros of Virtual Brands

Some of the benefits of opening a virtual brand include:

  • Restaurants can use restaurant marketing strategies to brand themselves.
  • There are fewer overhead expenses than if you had a dining room with wait staff.
  • Delivery apps make it easy for customers to purchase meals.
  • Customers can avoid delivery app fees by opting for in-store or curbside pick up (see: difference between curbside and pick up).

Cons of Virtual Brands

Fortunately, there are only a few downsides to opening a virtual brand. These include:

  • Restaurant owners are unable to host branded events.
  • There isn’t a brick and mortar eatery to direct online traffic.
  • It’s impossible for a virtual brand to offer an upscale experience.

Pros of Ghost Kitchens

Since the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry has seen many benefits of ghost kitchens. Here are some of the most popular benefits to name a few:

  • Restaurant owners don’t need as much space for a ghost kitchen.
  • There is less food spoilage and inventory shrinkage.
  • Since there isn’t a dining room, there is a much lower labor cost.

Cons of Ghost Kitchens

Though it might sound like the perfect solution for entrepreneurs, there are some negatives to running a ghost kitchen. Here are just a few:

  • Food consistency can be an issue if you’re cooking for multiple brands.
  • It can be more difficult for a restaurant to brand itself.
  • It’s more likely that order mixups can occur at ghost kitchens.

Frequently Asked Questions About Virtual Brands vs. Ghost Kitchens

Are Cloud Kitchens and Ghost Kitchens the Same?

Yes, cloud kitchens and ghost kitchens share the same concept. In some conversations, you might also hear of these restaurants being referred to as “dark kitchens.”

All three terms come from the fact that consumers receive their food from a source where the restaurant operations remain unseen.

Are Ghost Kitchens Successful?

Yes, ghost kitchens are successful and are one of the most profitable restaurant models. By reducing the number of costs and space, restaurant owners can boost the restaurant profit margin.

Can You Trust A Ghost Kitchen?

Yes, customers can trust the food and service they receive from ghost kitchens. Entrepreneurs are able to customize their ghost kitchens to accommodate food trends, high demands, and various menu items.

Virtual Brands vs. Ghost Kitchens: Which One Will You Choose?

Whichever model you choose, know that it can be a profitable venture. As delivery apps become more popular, offering convenient and high-quality services should perform well.