“Ghost” kitchens as an alternative to restaurants in the pandemic

Juan Diego Gaitán makes hamburgers and desserts in his kitchen. As in a restaurant, only it does not have a dining room, waiters or even a place at street level. Rent a “ghost kitchen”, workspaces in a shared warehouse dedicated to the food delivery business, which is booming due to the COVID19 restrictions.

He began his adventure with his partners after losing his job due to the pandemic. The so-called ghost kitchens have allowed him to start the business quickly, with a low investment and lower risks.

“If we had a conventional restaurant, the fixed costs would be much higher. And with the restrictions, the fixed costs would have remained … We would continue to pay rent and payroll. This gives us a lot of flexibility; from a hamburger brand to a dessert, without no extra cost “, explains the co-founder of Food Craft & Analú

The pandemic has advanced the growth projections of food delivery by five years. Spaniards now place twice as many orders as before confinement, and businesses that sell exclusively online have increased 23%.

Up to a dozen shared kitchens like this are scattered around Madrid. Its expansion is creating friction with residents, who complain about odors and the continuous traffic of riders, and with traditional restaurants that demand greater control of the sector.

A warehouse that we visited in the center of Madrid will house 18 kitchens to rent to restaurants that wish to enter the home delivery business.

Its owner, Jaime Martínez, co-founder of Cuyna, understands the concern of some neighbors about this new and disruptive business model, but insists that shared kitchens meet all the guarantees: “The sanitary, hygiene and urban requirements are the same and even greater for a business of these characteristics “.

Martínez de Velasco believes that ghost kitchens are here to stay, and will merge with the traditional restaurant in the future, in the same way that clothing brands combine physical stores with high visibility with powerful online sales platforms.

“Restaurateurs will have more and more stores in main streets with a lot of traffic and then kitchens that allow them to be very agile, very fast and very good at home delivery, as is the case in Cuyna,” he explains.

The pandemic has consolidated the food delivery business, and will continue to grow at an annual rate of 20% until 2022. Even after the COVID restrictions have disappeared, Spaniards will continue to indulge themselves of eating out, without leaving home.