Nowadays, everything is done online; from buying clothes to household items, there are online stores and delivery services available for everything. And if we talk about food, apps like Foodpanda, Careem Now etc have made it easier than ever to have our favorite meals delivered right to our doorstep.

But even so, there’s a lag in many restaurants’ food delivery services. At times the delivery time is too long or the entire process too complicated and inefficient, at others the restaurants don’t have services outside of the vicinity of their location. Furthermore, with the lockdown during the Covid-19, a lot of other limitations of food delivery apps came to focus. At such instances, cloud kitchens can be of benefit to the food entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses beyond the brick-and-mortar services they provide to people.

Cloud kitchens, also known as ghost kitchens or virtual kitchens, are kitchens focused on delivery-only services. Although restaurants capitalizing on their delivery services isn’t anything new, the recent advances in technology is what has made these cloud kitchens possible for the food industry.

How Do Cloud Kitchens Work?

Cloud kitchens are licensed commercial kitchen facilities with one or multiple restaurants operating within them to make food and deliver it to customers as quickly as possible. In a sense, virtual kitchens are like an incubator full of restaurants, each with their own individual station with all the kitchen items available from ovens to hood vents, stoves, prep tables etc.

These kitchens often have optimized menus, focusing solely on the ease of cooking and maintaining the quality of food upon delivery. They’re mostly set in out-of-town industrial areas, making it easier to have a wider and more remote location to deliver food in, which the restaurant itself can’t reach through its brick-and-mortar location.

These virtual kitchens take advantage of all the tech available at hand and capitalize on using apps such as Careem Now and Foodpanda to make their deliveries more convenient for people. In taking advantage of this, they study the data of what kind of food is demanded by the population during what time and prepare and deliver food accordingly. There are different ways of running cloud kitchens; they can be run by a single brand offering delivery-only services as an alternative to their brick-and-mortar restaurant, or it can be a cloud-kitchen housing multiple brands while delivering food with their own name on paper. In Pakistan, multiple kinds of cloud kitchens have started to emerge, so let’s have a look at the opportunities they can provide to food entrepreneurs in the country.

Opportunities for Food Entrepreneurs Through Cloud Kitchens

Low Overheads

One big challenge faced by every restaurant is staffing and spacing when it comes to their services. This problem is disqualified when it comes to cloud kitchens as they can take better advantage of on-demand labour without having to worry about hiring a service staff. Since there is no concept of in-house seating and other such operations, the cost of running a cloud kitchen is far lower for restaurants. And hence, they can easily be set up in remote locations with lower rent costs, further decreasing the investments done to set-up their operations compared to the profits that can be derived from it.

Better Efficiency

Since virtual kitchens run on custom-built spaces, their processes are all prioritized on delivering food, providing an efficient method of batching up food, even if for multiple brands. This allows for the kitchen space to be customized according to the needs of the different brands, preparing it fast and handing it over to be delivered efficiently.

Access to User Data and the Opportunity of Adaptability

Since these kitchens are designed with tech in mind, the menu and staff can easily be changed and customized after observing consumer behavior. The food can also be optimized to suit consumer demand and ordering habits. Furthermore, the benefit of not being tied to a physical location also means food businesses can change their operating time according to when the demand for orders is highest e.g. in the morning or after midnight, in specific locations.

These restaurants are so adaptable that you can even change the menu according to the season, i.e offer healthy salads in summer and soup etc during winters.

Brand Awareness without High Spendings

Nowadays, in order to become part of the digital world, food entrepreneurs spend a lot on marketing campaigns just to get their name known across the industry. And even then, there remains doubt in people’s mind as to figure out whether the business is even worth ordering from. With cloud kitchens, this cost of marketing can lessen, resulting in further savings.

Hotpod’s Cloud Kitchen Model

Hotpod’s model is true to the ‘ghost kitchen’ set-up that cloud kitchens are known by. It doesn’t have any physical sitting location or food truck that consumers can visit and have access to. The model is based on hotpod’s having a license to collaborate with different food brands, learn their recipes and prepare it in its own factory location and send it out for deliveries. The kitchen has the freedom to choose restaurants according to consumer demands and have a customized menu based on consumer favorability.

Hotpod’s cloud kitchen model depends upon a rented space to set up operations, its visibility on food delivery apps, and coordinated labor, ordering of ingredients, and availability of delivery supplies. Hotpod aims to provide all that’s needed from a virtual restaurant.

Cloud kitchens are the new trend in the market, especially with covid-19 in mind. These kitchens, like Hotpod, are the future of the food industry. They provide a number of opportunities for every food entrepreneur to benefit from and they can be capitalized on to make the industry grow further, while also adding to the convenience of consumers when it comes to ordering food.