‘Ghost kitchens’ gain traction amid pandemic takeout and delivery surge

The framework expedites process and removes dine-in expenses

If a disruptive event like the global pandemic is indeed an accelerator of trends that were coming anyway, this one might be in for the long haul. In Los Angeles, Colony’s “ghost kitchen” framework is making it easier for restaurants to create takeout and delivery — without the unnecessary overhead for dine in.

New restaurant concepts like Middle Eastern Bowlila and L.A. favorites like Trejo’s Tacos use individual high-performance “smart kitchens,” all under one roof. Customers can place a single order and get the chicken sandwich from Main Chick and a vegan mac and cheese from Jackfruit Café.

Making it easier on the restauranteurs, Colony includes a shared drive-through window and a joint lobby operation, as well as a shared software solution. Colony opened last fall, well ahead of the pandemic.

Given the number of restaurants that had to turn into takeout and delivery only when dine-in options were shut down, a concept like Colony makes a lot of sense — particularly if eating at home becomes baked into our routines.

Colony kitchens run 200 to 400 square feet, with each having a private walk-in cooler. Perhaps most impressive: Colony says its restaurant owners can be up and cooking within two weeks.

Colony is far from the only “ghost kitchen” concept. CloudKitchens, with investment from Uber founder Travis Kalanick, is doing the same thing in a number of cities around the world. Unlike Colony, though, there is no on-site pickup, ordering or dine-in options. It all connects with a delivery service like DoorDash or Grubhub.

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