Ghost restaurant

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A ghost restaurant (also known as a delivery-only restaurant or online-only restaurant) is a food service business that serves customers exclusively through online food delivery. Without the need to interact with customers directly on the premises, ghost restaurants can offset the high cost of a delivery system with cheaper real estate and operations.

Although restaurants typically earn more from customers who dine at the restaurant, due to the expense of operating a delivery service or the fees charged by third party delivery companies like Grubhub and Caviar, ghost restaurants have significantly lower overhead. Operating a dining room, with the real estate it requires, staff, amenities, insurance, and other expenses, is a significant cost.[1] Even restaurants with considerable to-go business traditionally dedicate the majority of their space to seating.[2] As visibility, curb appeal, foot traffic, and accessibility are not concerns, the kitchen can be housed in an inexpensive location that would not typically be considered desirable for a restaurant.

A single company may operate several ghost restaurants, and a single location's kitchen and staff can function as multiple branded restaurants.[3] Without a brick-and-mortar location to renovate, companies can also try out new brands and cuisines with little effort, to appeal to changing tastes and trends.[3][2]

Most of the restaurants utilize existing delivery services. For example, Green Summit, which owns several ghost restaurants in New York City and partners with Grubhub.[2] Some companies incorporate their own delivery system into the business model, like the New York-based company Maple.[2][4] Maple, which is backed by restaurateur David Chang, is able to orient its business around productivity in terms of meals per hour per kitchen — a metric more typical of fast food restaurants.[4]

Several 2015 news articles found some "ghost restaurants" operated as unregulated, unlicensed standalone entities[5] or as fronts for restaurants that might or might not have health code violations.[6]


  1. ^ Chamlee, Virginia (September 30, 2016). "Are Virtual Restaurants Dining's Next Hot Trend?". Easter.
  2. ^ a b c d Ungerleider, Neal (January 20, 2017). "Hold The Storefront: How Delivery-Only "Ghost" Restaurants Are Changing Takeout". Fast Company.
  3. ^ a b Eisenpress, Cara (February 21, 2016). "Behold 'ghost restaurants': Order online, but don't try to show up for dinner". Crain's.
  4. ^ a b Kessler, Sarah (March 21, 2016). "How Maple Built An Insanely Efficient, Chipotle-Crushing Food Delivery Machine". Fast Company.
  5. ^ Thompson, Elise Thompson. "Have You Missed Starry Kitchen's Balls? Us Too. Uber Eats is Here to Save Us All!". The LA Beat. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  6. ^ Glorioso, Chris & Givens, Ann & Stulberger, Evan (November 11, 2015). "LOCALI-Team: Restaurants Use False Identities on Food Delivery Websites". NBC News. New York.