Rational has held its inaugural Trend Talk, an ‘All about Ghost Kitchens’ webinar focused on ‘the ideal set-up’, which received in excess of 500 registrations from over 50 countries last month.
The webinar featured speakers comprising: Mark Dempsey from GlobalData, Joseph Schumaker FCSI from FoodSpace and Stephan Leuschner from Rational, and the moderator was Michael Jones from Progressive Content.
Adam Knights, marketing director, Rational UK and Ireland commented: “The first Trend Talk was extremely well supported by our customers. The subject of ghost kitchens has shown to be of great interest within our home market. So we are looking forward to introducing further expert talks on key topics in the near future.”
From the perspective of Mark Dempsey, global consulting director at data analytics and consulting firm GlobalData, ghost kitchens – often referred to as dark kitchens or cloud kitchens – are playing an increasingly important role in the foodservice sector. This will probably not change significantly, even after the Covid-19 pandemic. A noticeable reduction in costs, simplified production and customer-friendly solutions are proving to be a success for this type of out-of-home business.
Dempsey said: “Ghost kitchens are a global opportunity. All regions are actively developing solutions.” For example, more and more supermarkets are interested in ghost kitchens, which can be integrated into storefronts. Similarly, quick-service chains are jumping on the bandwagon – the average quick-service restaurant employs 30 to 50 people, whereas a ghost kitchen can be run with two people per shift. He concluded that ghost kitchens are very dynamic, open to new technologies and will change the foodservice business for good.
Joseph Schumaker FCSI, CEO and founder of FoodSpace, which specialises in kitchen planning, foodservice management and growth strategies, also assessed the market from a planner’s perspective. Schumaker sees a big challenge in the customer experience. How does the virtual brand manage to offer its customers the same experience as a traditional restaurant that creates atmosphere in an instant through tableware, music and an open kitchen?
Stephan Leuschner, an expert on ghost kitchens at Rational, demonstrated the output that is achievable with the right planning and the right equipment: “The requirements for a perfect ghost kitchen also include the flexibility of the set-up in order to offer different dishes and to be able to change the food offering quickly if necessary.”
In addition, he believes the following considerations are important: separate work areas to ensure workflow at all times; energy-efficient equipment to keep fixed costs low; and adaptability to fit into the environment and infrastructure.
In parallel, Leuschner defined operational requirements such as safe and easy-to-use equipment for every level of training, standardisation for safety and consistent quality, ergonomic workstations for greater safety and efficiency, versatile equipment for small areas, and the possibility of centralised pre-production and final preparation in smaller satellite kitchens. How all of this theory looks like in reality was shown by his examples of kitchen set-ups in which the workflow was aided by equipment such as the iCombi Pro combi steamer or the iVario multifunctional cooking system from Rational.