The cloud kitchen concept has been gaining popularity in recent times. A cloud kitchen or a ghost kitchen is a place that solely cooks food and has it delivered to a person’s doorstep. This is a space similar to a restaurant but without the dine-in experience. Unlike most restaurants, they do not offer dine-in services but rather follow a ‘kitchen to door’ process. They receive orders via phone calls, websites or online ordering platforms. Cloud kitchens popularly have tie-ups with online food portals. So they would mainly prepare the food as per their menu and order, and the connection with online ordering portals like Swiggy, Zomato, Dine Out will have them delivered easily. 

What Are The Different Types Of Cloud Kitchen?

Before you start your venture in the cloud kitchen business you need to know the different types of cloud kitchens. There are different cloud kitchen business models that you can try out. Before wondering how to start a cloud kitchen from home, you can start by building your own tiffin business at home and later expand. Learn how to start a tiffin business here

1. Standalone/Single Brand Cloud Kitchens

These kitchens operate under a single theme or cuisine. They have a small menu and would offer a maximum of 2 different cuisines. Even the physical kitchens here are very small. 

2. Virtual Restaurants

Here the brand or the kitchen operates on the side of an existing restaurant. The main restaurant could have a subpart which is the cloud kitchen. The virtual brand offers a different menu from the main restaurant and can be a great way to experiment with a new cuisine that may be very different from what the established restaurant is known for. 

3. Multi-Brand Cloud Kitchens

Here the cloud kitchen has a larger infrastructure than usual. Multiple brands are managed by the same mother company using the same equipment and resources. The different brands under the mother company cater to specific cuisines, each satiating a different customer need and catering to different Target Groups. The multi-brand cloud kitchen model enables companies to cater to a wider audience and sell more to existing customers. 

4. Co-Working Kitchen Spaces

Also known as shared kitchen space, this is a large kitchen with spaces that other restaurant brands can rent out. They have individual kitchen units, equipment, utilities for each brand. 

These kitchens are again located at strategic locations with high customer demand, especially for specific cuisines.

5. Aggregator Managed Cloud Kitchens

Aggregator cloud kitchens are large coworking kitchen spaces managed by online food companies. The companies or brands invite their top restaurant partners to prepare food for a ‘delivery only’ option from these kitchen spaces. In the Indian food delivery business, Swiggy, and Zomato have both tried their hands in the cloud kitchen business through this type of cloud kitchen business model.

6. Operator Managed Cloud Kitchens

Operator-managed cloud kitchens are like virtual franchising models, and one of the best ways of expanding the cloud kitchen business. Here the kitchen operator runs a cloud kitchen business from an existing or upcoming restaurant on their behalf. The brands are listed separately on online food aggregators and can also receive orders from the cloud kitchen operator’s central food ordering website/mobile app or call centre. All operations, right from accepting the order online and preparing it, to getting it delivered through third-party logistics are taken care of by the operator.

How To Start Your Own Cloud Kitchen

Think from the scratch before starting your own cloud kitchen. Just like any other business, a cloud kitchen concept might sound fun but needs a lot of work. Here are some pointers that you can start thinking about. 

1. Who Is Your Customer?

Do a little research on your area and the people. Pick on the different kinds of food they like, the price range and how you can contribute to that. Understanding who your customers are will also allow you to do effective marketing, which will be critical to your success.

Keep in mind that you will be unable to be all things to all people. 

2. Concept And Your Name

If you are already in the food business then you know that you need to create something unique for the customers. It is the concept that will ‘wow’ your customers. Picking random concepts does not work here. There needs to be fit, and you need to be able to research to verify that the customer wants what you will be serving. Also, your kitchen needs to have a name. Choose a name that sells!

3. What’s Your Menu And Price?

Again, this is a space that needs to be created as per the customer. You cannot prepare a menu that your customer would have no interest in. Prepare a menu suited to your target audience. Craft a menu very early in the game, do it right up in front instead of running frantically to create a menu when your kitchen is done. Get the recipes, test them out and have them ready so you can make changes later if you need. 

Your Checklist Before Starting A Cloud Kitchen 

The low investment and risk, along with the ease in replicating and scaling the restaurant business make cloud kitchens, one of the most profitable food business formats. Especially now where people are worried about being infected and are reducing their social life and outings, cloud kitchens are more reliable. Before you dive into the business here are a few things you should check out. 

1. Location

The location and property are the biggest differentiators between a traditional dine-in/takeaway restaurant and a cloud kitchen. A cloud kitchen does not require a huge fancy location as it can very easily be set up in a house. This brings down the cost of opening a cloud kitchen significantly as you no longer need to spend on the interiors and furniture. Residential areas, market backsides, unused parking lots make for a great location for a cloud kitchen. Cloud kitchens are a great hit as long as there is a high demand for the menu. 

2. Licenses 

For many reasons, obtaining proper licenses and certification is important to open a cloud kitchen. Getting the licenses in order will save you from legal difficulties. The major licenses required to start a cloud kitchen business are FSSAI, GST Registration, trade and safety license from the fire department. It is crucial that you have these in place before starting a food delivery business.

3. Kitchen Equipment 

The kitchen equipment totally depends on the type of cuisine you are serving. The basic equipment needed to start a cloud kitchen is stove and oven, refrigerator, cutting counters and knives. Here are a few kitchen essentials to make cooking easier. Another part of a cloud kitchen is the packaging. No matter how good your food is, if it’s not handled well, it would end up ruining the entire customer experience and bring a bad name to your brand. You would need plastic containers, boxes and spoons to ensure the proper packaging of your food.

How To Market Your Cloud Kitchen 

When wondering how to start a cloud kitchen, the answer is above. But how do you market the business and make it popular? A cloud kitchen doesn’t have a dine-in facility, hence it doesn’t rely on physical customer service or the ambience. The popularity of a cloud kitchen relies on online and telephone food orders, food delivery, promotions, ads and branding. Marketing is more important now as everything is online. Here are a few pointers to boost your sales and market your kitchen. 

  1. Listing your cloud kitchen on online food aggregators
  2. Promoting your cloud kitchen on online aggregators
  3. Social media marketing  
  4. Search engine optimization
  5. Loyalty programs and SMS and email

The cloud kitchen model has created a number of opportunities for food enthusiasts and chefs and has created a wave in the FnB industry. Cloud kitchens involve low risk and high benefit. It is the best option for beginning and upcoming restaurateurs. 

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