How to equip a safe and efficient ghost kitchen
updated 2021.09.13 /original 2020.11.04
With many foodservice operations operating almost fully through off-premise dining, restaurants have begun to look more like ghost kitchens than traditional restaurants. Ghost kitchens, also known as ghost restaurants or virtual restaurants, were a growing trend prior to the pandemic, but recent data from Technomic suggests that sales via U.S. ghost kitchens could rise by 25% year over year for the next five years. This projected growth is linked to global consumers’ favor for this reimagined restaurant concept; 52% report that they are comfortable ordering from a delivery-only restaurant with no physical storefront. For operators looking to establish a ghost kitchen, choosing smallwares wisely is essential to designing a safe and efficient kitchen.
To fit a variety of ingredients and flavors into a ghost kitchen, using vertical space is key. Tiered stations and wall-mounted dispensers can help free up counterspace needed for food prep or smallwares while holding almost anything that restaurants need to build a varied menu of flavorful food and beverages. Food pan tiered stations with lids and spoons can be used for ingredients like shredded lettuce, chopped nuts or toasted coconut. Tiered wire organizers can hold fountain jars, bottles or jugs with pumps for serving beverage syrups, sauces or other toppings. For comforting late-night desserts that can increase check averages, hold chocolate chips or nuts in wall-mount dispensers for baking into travel-friendly treats such as cookies or brownies. Organizing ingredients and flavors in tiered stations allows ghost kitchens to fit more flavor into a smaller space and offer wider menu variety.
Commercial equipment with a smaller footprint also helps create menu flexibility and variety in limited space. Using a warmer with a slim profile like the IntelliServ® can accommodate more flavors in a smaller space by holding up to two 1/6-size pans that can be outfitted with lids or pumps for multiple serving options. Using one piece of equipment for multiple uses and flavors allows ghost kitchens to stay agile – offering new or seasonal flavors to keep the menu exciting and entice guests to order again and again.
Health, safety and sanitation are top-of-mind for operators and customers alike; selecting the right equipment helps support an all-around safer experience. The pandemic has accelerated the advancement of restaurant technology, especially for touchless equipment. Touchless condiment dispensers use a sensor to detect the user‘s hand and dispense their desired flavor without any contact. By allowing users to dispense without touching the dispenser, contact-free units like the Touchless Express™ help create a safer environment by reducing shared touchpoints between staff members.
Safe utensil holding
To further ensure a safe food preparation environment, and to help manage utility costs, ghost kitchens can also opt for a heated utensil holder that safely hold utensils above 140° F to protect against bacteria growth. Wall-mounted styles also capitalize on limited space in smaller kitchens. Heated utensil holders provide an eco-friendly alternative to continuous-flow dipper wells by using only 600 gallons of water a year compared to continuous-flow dipper wells which can use up to 500 gallons of water a day. This significant reduction in water and energy costs can add up quickly for operators using ghost kitchens for the low overhead they offer.
For more insight on maximizing space in small kitchens, read Optimizing Space in Compact Kitchens. And for additional insight on ensuring food safety, check out 5 Ways to Equip Your Restaurant for Food Safety. Our Customer Care team at Server Products is always standing by to help you with any restaurant serving, holding or dispensing equipment needs you may have. Reach out to us here for personalized assistance.