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April 23, 2024
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How Ghost Kitchens Went From $1 Trillion Hype To A Struggling Business Model

Food delivery is a booming business in 2024. There’s one food delivery trend, however, that hasn’t gone along for the ride: ghost kitchens.

Once a pandemic darling that raised more than $3 billion in venture funding, the ghost kitchen industry is falling short of lofty expectations. Euromonitor International estimated that the ghost kitchen industry could reach a market size of $1 trillion by 2030.

Big brands wanted a piece of the pie. Companies such as Wendy’s, Ruby Tuesday, TGI Fridays and Wingstop all joined the wave of ghost kitchens."It is clear that the impact of ghost kitchens was overestimated," said Evert Gruyaert, restaurant food and service leader at Deloitte. "And we see that today with the decline in ghost kitchens."

Consumers complained about the clandestine nature of ghost kitchens, and food delivery apps shuttered thousands of the virtual kitchens. Then consumers shifted back to brick-and-mortar restaurants in droves, forcing investor pullback and mass closures of ghost kitchens.

Now the smaller businesses left in the industry are pivoting to a new business model to survive. Some hope to diversify the food business to expand to events and catering, not just delivery. One such business is New York City-based Nimbus Kitchen, a co-cooking space hoping to shed the negative connotation of ghost kitchens.

"Shared kitchens and co-cooking infrastructure like Nimbus is here to stay," said Camilla Opperman, Nimbus Kitchen co-founder. "We believe that the future of the industry is catering towards not only the delivery concepts, but to all of these different kinds of food businesses that ultimately need the kitchen space to legally sell to the end consumer."

Watch the video above to find out more about the rise, fall and future of ghost kitchens and if the business can pivot to return to its pandemic highs.

0:00 Introduction
0:57 Ch 1. The rise of ghost kitchen
4:31 Ch. 2. Consumer backlash
7:35 Ch. 3. Changing the delivery model
10:31 Ch. 4. What’s next?

Produced and Edited by: DeLon Thornton
Camera: Kaan Oguz
Graphics by: Christina Locopo and Jason Reginato
Supervising Producer: Jeff Morganteen
Additional Footage: Getty Images

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How Ghost Kitchens Went From $1 Trillion Hype To A Struggling Business Model

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