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Ghost kitchens, commercial cooking spaces dedicated for delivery only, have a variety of aliases: cloud kitchens, dark kitchens, virtual restaurants, etc. Regardless of the name you land on, one thing is for sure: ghost kitchens are the next big thing in the foodservice industry and this trend is heating up fast. Prior to the pandemic, ghost kitchens slowly began popping up around the world. However, local lockdowns and the rise of food delivery accelerated their growth, smashing early industry predictions. According to Euromonitior, ghost kitchens could now become a trillion-dollar business by 2030. 

Ghost kitchens enable restaurants to prioritize cooking and selling their products without the extra overhead costs of a regular brick and mortar location. Most of these commercial kitchens are also strategically located in areas that have a high concentration of food delivery demand, providing a large audience pool at a fraction of the normal costs. However, it’s not just the financials that are alluring; brands such as CloudKitchens, a ghost kitchen startup which rents out space to professionals, allows chefs to set up shop and begin serving customers in just a matter of weeks. 

menu item photography

With such low entry barriers, this trend has been tested by an array of industry players: local chefs with an idea, spin off concepts of widely known restaurants, and purely new virtual brands. National chains are also betting big on this trend. Burger King, P.F. Chang’s, Denny’s, and Wendy’s are just a few of many chains setting up locations that are only open for delivery or pickup. In fact, by 2025, Wendy’s is set to open 1,200 new establishments, with 30% being “non traditional” including ghost kitchens, delivery-only locations, and fuel and travel center locations.

However, with perks also come challenges. With no dine-in options, customers’ ability to see what the food looks like and how it is presented prior to ordering is limited. Having a stellar digital marketing strategy that includes customized, professional photos and videos are key to driving orders and sales for ghost kitchen brands. When developing visual content strategies, brands should keep three elements in mind:  

Quality and Consistency: Don’t settle for average content. Building an authentic digital presence illustrating quality and consistent photography on your website, menu ordering platforms, and social media channels will elevate brands, attract customers and increase sales. OCUS provides qualitative visuals and through post production and cutting edge technology, enhance photos to be more performant online.

Authenticity: How will customers pick a menu out of the crowd? Develop a unique brand identity that makes a menu stand out from competitors and showcases your expertise and best menu items. If customers feel they’ve been misled by what is shown versus what they received, they’ll likely not return. Through professional styling and lighting with custom images, brands will show their uniqueness while giving a realistic view of what customers can expect. 

Clear Communication: Without a server to inform customers of  specials, seasonal dishes or recommendations, high quality images enable brands to effectively communicate menu updates and promotions. The OCUS solution streamlines operations for ghost kitchens to get new visuals online quickly and efficiently.  

food photography

As popularity in ghost kitchens continues to rise and investors seek new ventures in this sector, having the right tools to attract and retain customers will be essential for brands to keep their stoves on and remain competitive. At OCUS(™), we are  experts in the Food delivery industry providing leading brands such as UberEats, Grubhub, Yemeksepeti and FoodPanda, with optimized  visuals that drive orders on digital menus. 

Contact marketing@ocus.com today, to learn how OCUS’ cutting edge technology and global community of Image Creators, provides best of breed visual content to drive interest and loyalty in ghost kitchens without a single customer stepping through the door. 

Written by: Noelle Brophy – Solution Marketing Manager