Should Your C-Store Open a Ghost Kitchen?

Ghost kitchens salvaged the restaurant industry during an unprecedented time in history.

And nterestingly, ghost kitchens began popping up in 2017. Back then, they had absolutely no utility and so they didn’t really catch on.

But, ghost kitchens certainly make sense now. How could your c-store benefit from implementing one?

First, let’s define exactly what a ghost kitchen is in the c-store world. It’s actually exactly like a ghost kitchen anywhere else with one notable difference: customers order digitally away from your c-store rather than directly at it.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean a ghost kitchen makes sense for your c-store.

Consider these factors to make that determination for yourself:

1. What is the Best Location?

Per a September 2020 article at NACS Magazine, the ideal location for a ghost kitchen lies in lower rent districts.

This is because you don’t have to rely on foot traffic to get business. You don’t need to sink $1 million or more to make your c-store look amazing.

Since ghost kitchens thrive on fast delivery speed, locating yours near a high population center gives you the most opportunity.

2. The Right Partners

You don’t have to invent your own ghost kitchen system if you don’t want to.

You can outsource the entire operation.

You don’t even need to have the physical space. All you need is the desire, and willingness to research potential ghost kitchen partners.

We won’t recommend any names because we don’t know the quality of any particular services.

But understand that they do exist and can help you quickly capitalize on this opportunity.

3. Developing the Right Menu for In-Demand Meals

However you go about creating your ghost kitchen, you need to have analytics available so you can deliver your local market what it wants.

And as you do that, keep your eyes peeled for high-margin ideas that can be transitioned into other profitable opportunities.

For example, you could offer quick-fix Italian sides for tapas.

4. Build Your Brand and Reputation

Ghost kitchens will continue to catch on. But as with most businesses, the majority will fail and go away.

However, yours won’t if you focus on creating a strong brand.

Delicious food, fast delivery, and quick resolutions to complaints will secure your future.

This sounds simple. But to do things the way you say you will, in the time you say will, and consistently for years is difficult to match.

5. Create Separate Brands for Distinct Market Segments

You can be all things to all people. That was not a typo!

You can serve all markets and do it well. You just have to do it under a specific brand name for each market.

Otherwise, your market wonders how you can do so many things well and chooses the company who targets a niche instead.

So, if you do Asian, Latin, or burgers, create separate brand lines for each. Start with the one you know the best and have the highest chance for success. Then expand.

Ghost kitchens aren’t for every c-store. But they’re a great natural next step. And executed right, a ghost kitchen can quickly become an excellent new revenue center.