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What is a Delivery-Only Restaurant?

Exploring the concept of a delivery-only restaurant, including industry trends and advantages over a traditional restaurant business model.

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Diners in the United States spend over $800 billion on restaurants each year, with $27 billion of that spent on delivery platforms, apps, and websites in 2018, a figure that has significantly climbed over the past two years.

This could be attributed in part to the advent of the global pandemic, which caused many consumers to stay at home rather than venture out. However, the continuous increase in delivery-only restaurants popping up across the country can also be blamed for the spike in food delivery orders. Continue reading to learn more about this burgeoning industry trend.

Table of Contents

  • What is a Delivery-Only Restaurant?
  • What’s the Difference between a Delivery-Only Restaurant and a Meal Delivery Services?
  • What is Causing the Delivery-Only Restaurant Trend?
  • What are the Advantages of Operating a Delivery-Only Restaurant?
  • Where Do I Begin?

What is a Delivery-Only Restaurant?

A delivery-only restaurant, also known as a ghost kitchen, dark kitchen, or virtual restaurant, is a food establishment that only offers delivery services to its customers.

You won’t be able to stroll into a storefront to make an order or sit in a dining room while you eat, as you would at a regular restaurant. Instead, you’ll use a smartphone app or the company’s website to browse the menu and place your order, which will then be delivered right to your door by a delivery driver.

As a result, these enterprises are completely kitchen-based and not based on an established restaurant. What is undeniable is that the restaurant sector is evolving, and this tendency does not appear to be abating anytime soon. It’s actually gaining traction.

What’s the Difference between a Delivery-Only Restaurant and a Meal Delivery Services?

While a delivery-only restaurant acts similarly to a regular restaurant (with the exception of face-to-face service), a meal delivery service operates slightly differently. These services, which supply consumers with whole meals, are becoming increasingly popular in metropolitan regions.

The main difference between this service and a delivery-only restaurant is that the former requires ordering days, if not weeks, in advance. The latter can be ordered on the spot and delivered right away.

What is Causing the Delivery-Only Restaurant Trend?

As previously stated, recent increases in delivery orders are almost certainly connected to the global pandemic and accompanying lockdowns. Many restaurants, especially more conventional establishments, have turned to delivery to stay afloat. Even if they couldn’t physically open their doors to invite consumers in, delivery and takeaway alternatives allowed them to continue serving them.

However, prior to the pandemic, we noticed a steady increase in food delivery orders, which aided in the growth of delivery-only eateries. The surge in delivery orders is often attributed to an increase in desire for convenient solutions, particularly as Millennials have become a major shopping force across the economy.

Because of the increasing prominence of technology, many consumers now expect to be able to get almost anything they want, whenever they want it. Food delivery services assist in meeting this demand.

What are the Advantages of Operating a Delivery-Only Restaurant?

Operating a delivery-only business is more than just a technique to meet client demand or accommodate their choice for staying at home rather than visiting a restaurant. For people looking to get into or stay in the food sector, delivery-only operations have a lot to offer. The most notable advantage is that delivery-only restaurants have much reduced startup costs due to a variety of factors.

For starters, traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants are required to devote the majority of their business area to client seats. Even fast-casual restaurants such as Chipotle and Panera Bread, which see almost 90% of their customers grab-and-go, must devote over 75% of their operating space to seats for diners. Delivery-only restaurants, on the other hand, don’t have this issue and can operate in a kitchen as small as 200 square feet, which means lower rent expenses.

Delivery-only restaurants, in addition to requiring substantially less space to operate, frequently use shared kitchens. These shared spaces are designed to be used by a variety of enterprises, and are frequently rented out by the hour, day, or month to several tenants rather than being leased to a single company for years. While you will almost certainly be required to pay a deposit up front, you will most likely be able to book and pay for your time in the space on a pay-as-you-go basis.

This payment model reduces startup expenses even more by allowing new enterprises to pay just for the hours they intend to operate. Plus, you won’t have to sign a long-term lease on the location, which is normally needed of traditional restaurants, aside from a terms of use agreement.

Furthermore, by eliminating the need to prepare your premises with equipment and guest tables, the start-up costs of a delivery-only restaurant are minimized. One of the most expensive aspects of operating a restaurant is outfitting a traditional brick-and-mortar location.

Food trucks were first supposed to be the solution to this problem. However, due to the exorbitant cost of owning and maintaining a vehicle, as well as the legalities of licenses and parking, many people rapidly discovered that the cost reductions were modest. Delivery-only restaurants don’t have nearly as many expenses because they usually operate out of a shared kitchen. Ghost kitchens are purchased and managed by a kitchen manager who pays for all of the equipment up front, absolving individuals who use the facility of this burden. You’ll want to make sure you work out all of these logistics once you’ve finished setting up a ghost kitchen so your business functions well.

Finally, delivery-only restaurants are exempt from having to pay for servers and other front-of-house employees.

Using cost-effective delivery optimization software like EasyRoutes also saves you time and money. Trying to manage your deliveries manually can take hours everyday, and EasyRoutes reduces that time down to seconds.

Overall, the emergence of delivery-only restaurants has reduced the barriers to entry normally associated with traditional food service enterprises, democratizing the options available to start a new business in this sector. More information: How to Start a Meal Kit Delivery Service.

Where Do I Begin?

While starting a delivery-only restaurant is a terrific way to get your foot in the door of the food service sector, it is far from simple. There are still a few crucial factors to consider as you move from concept to completion. Here are a few of our best recommendations for starting a delivery-only restaurant.

Make Sure Your Concept Starts With a Delivery Focus

Make sure your concept starts with a delivery focus. Making ensuring the cuisine maintains its quality and fulfills customer expectations is one of the most difficult problems for traditional restaurants that later add a delivery or takeaway service. Consider how the food will travel and maintain its temperature when you create your menu to avoid cold, mushy meals arriving at your clients’ homes.

Develop Your Brand

Because your business will be nearly exclusively online, you’ll want to spend a lot of time and money creating a logo, website, menu, and other digital assets that can be utilized across all of your marketing platforms. Use these tools to tell a story and provide them additional information about you. Remember to establish engaging social media profiles as well! After all, this will be your major method of consumer contact.

Be Different

When it comes to getting their meal delivered, your clients will undoubtedly have a plethora of possibilities. As a result, you must surprise and excite customers with each order. Mints and fortune cookies are a cheap and simple way to add a little something extra to your party, but they’re also overdone. Consider replacing it with a more personal touch, such as a handwritten thank you note. We guarantee that giving your customers such a wonderful experience will make them think of you the next time they are hungry.

There’s never been a better time to open your virtual doors than now, with food delivery orders on the rise. We’re confident that you’re off to a terrific start with these suggestions and the information provided above. EasyRoutes is here to help.

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About Roundtrip

Roundtrip's mission is to equip every business with the software tools they need to deliver products to their customers in a delightful way. Thousands of worldwide choose EasyRoutes to power their local deliveries across dozens of product categories, from meal kits and groceries to coffee, cupcakes, kibble, and so much more. Our easy-to-use route planning and delivery optimization app is certified Built for Shopify, a two-time Shopify staff pick, and the top rated local delivery app on the Shopify App Store.

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