by | Mar 11, 2020 | Blog

With the ever increasing popularity of Uber Eats, Grubhub, and Postmates, restaurants are having to come up with creative ways to meet higher demand for food delivery and catering. Ghost kitchens are a great way to pump out large volumes of food without impacting the regular back of house restaurant operations. While commercial commissary kitchens have been around for years, they were typically located in industrial areas. Now, to the high popularity of internet searches for “food near me” there is a shift to more densely populated/ higher traffic areas where the delivery rate is higher.  Entrepreneurs and developers are targeting empty real estate spaces such as shopping malls, vacant sit-down restaurants, old car washes, and more for off-premise kitchen operations.

Zoning and Code Compliance

A ghost kitchen must fall under the zoning codes for whatever site is chosen, and each municipality has distinct building codes that construction must comply with.  A general contractor such as Emerald Inc. is a great resource for kitchen owners/ investors because they will have experience building kitchens in many different cities and know exactly what is required to meet the rules and regulations.  Examples include code regarding fire suppression and ventilation.

Potential for Multiple Food Vendors Under One Roof

Renting space at a ghost kitchen can allow a brand to fulfill online/mobile orders at a location other than their sit-down establishments, and avoid the overhead that goes along with parking lots, signs, tables, etc.

Dense, urban areas offer the opportunity to renovate retail space into a high capacity kitchen that can house many “subtenant” restaurants/food concepts.  This is great because it can give budding restauranteers (Food trucks included) an opportunity to test out their brand before making larger investments.  How these types of kitchen developments are classified varies from city to city. Ultimately, the right general contractor will be a huge help in planning the most efficient layout for plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and other elements of a space that will allow tenants to thrive side-by-side.

Featured Emerald Project: Rockwell Ice Cream Production Kitchen

Utah-based Rockwell Ice Cream chose Emerald Inc. to be the contractor that would help to bring its first retail ice cream shop to Arizona.  They needed a large off-site kitchen for production of ice cream, baked goods, candy, and more, and the perfect suite in a strip mall in Mesa was chosen.  Check out the transformation below from a run-down space to a top-notch, full-fledged kitchen.


In the end, ghost kitchens offer brands the chance to “hub and spoke” their operations, bringing their food closer to patrons that don’t live near the main restaurant. While ghost kitchens are sometimes called “dark kitchens” because they don’t typically match the image of the brand they represent, this is precisely the reason why they represent a high-margin opportunity– they meet the bare minimum requirements for making food, to restaurant specifications, that can be delivered or picked up.  This also means that they are a great opportunity for taking advantage of less desirable, vacant real estate.  Emerald Inc. can help you turn any space into the exact kitchen that meets your business needs. Call us today at 480-832-9808 or email us so that we can discuss how we can help make your off-site kitchen a reality.