COVID “Ghost Kitchens” Were Supposed to Revolutionize Restaurants, Instead They’re CRASHING

If you haven't come across the term "ghost kitchens," let me shed some light on what seems like a massive scam that gained prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the  thick of lockdown, with the surge in food delivery through platforms like DoorDash and GrubHub, restaurants hatched a money-making scheme. They'd establish an additional restaurant identity on these apps, showcasing a menu with slight variations.

Fast forward to the present, it appears  consumers are catching on to this ruse, and the ghost kitchen phenomenon is now taking a nosedive.

From Yahoo Finance:

It turns out the ghost kitchen concept puzzled many customers, who could not find the restaurants on a map, drop by in person to see where their food was prepared, or report problems with their orders. Some customers felt “fooled” and “catfished” when they learned that they ordered from what they thought was a small restaurant that instead turned out to be a big chain using ghost kitchen techniques.

As people began returning to restaurants, the “mystery meal world of virtual restaurants wasn’t as necessary,” said Stephen Zagor, a restaurant industry consultant and adjunct professor at Columbia Business School. “We care a lot about what my restaurant is about, and how fresh and delicious the food is.”

While people are happy to order off delivery apps, they want to eat from restaurants — not technology companies they don’t recognize selling food, he said.

People have returned to eating at restaurants in person and ordering at drive-thru, and delivery growth has stalled from its pandemic heights.

Additionally, many consumers are pulling back on meal delivery because of higher prices and delivery fees.

Transparency and quality issues have also been a major problem for ghost kitchens.

Consumers prefer ordering from brick-and-mortar restaurants, the National Restaurant Association found in a survey this year, with 70% of diners saying it’s important for their food to come from a publicly accessible, physical location.

So, there I was, falling for the whole "ghost kitchen" gig the first time around. Once I cracked the code and saw through their sneaky facade, I made a pact with myself: no more bites from either the ghost kitchen or the real deal.

Turns out, I'm not the only one waving goodbye to that charade. Seems like plenty of folks are on the same page.

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