As Food Deliveries Boom, So Do Ghost Kitchens

Since the pandemic began, many restaurants have pivoted to providing takeout and delivery. It’s a move that shows no signs of diminishing, even as they reopen for dining in one form or another. To accommodate this increased demand, they are depending more and more on various types of off-premises kitchens.

“I think it will continue,” said Daniel Boulud, the high-end chef and restaurateur who occasionally delivered special-occasion meals but has now established a new regular delivery service for his restaurants.

Several companies are counting on it. Their inventory is so-called ghost kitchens — off-site meal-preparation facilities that are untethered from physical restaurants. They predate the virus, but are multiplying now, and taking many new forms.

Ghost kitchens allow restaurants to outsource the making of their takeout and delivery meals, without cannibalizing the stoves, walk-ins and prep areas needed to serve seated diners outdoors or in. With national reach, they’re also promising to expand a restaurant’s footprint and brand recognition beyond the immediate neighborhood.

His mobile units, each 8 feet by 20 feet, are designed to produce no emissions. Restaurants or chefs pay $30,000 to $50,000 to start, with a six-month contract and a small monthly fee. Mr. Crespo said his price was much less than it would cost a restaurant to create and maintain its own outside kitchen.

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