2021 Entrepreneurial Awards

Restauranteurs Show Spirit of Ingenuity with Ghost Kitchens

A ghost kitchen contains equipment and facilities needed for the preparation of restaurant meals but has no dining area for walk-in customers.

While brick-and-mortar restaurants continue to slowly recover from the coronavirus, hungry consumers have kept a steady eye — and busy credit card — on the emergence of ghost kitchens.

A ghost kitchen contains equipment and facilities needed for the preparation of restaurant meals but has no dining area for walk-in customers. Ghost kitchens have emerged as a business model in response to the rapid consumer demand for restaurant delivery meals during the pandemic.

Flavortown Kitchen is a delivery-only restaurant featuring the award-winning dishes from celebrity chef Guy Fieri. Flavortown has opened a total of six such kitchens in Michigan — including one in Lansing at 2970 Town Centre Blvd., where people can purchase signature dishes like the Bourbon Brown Sugar BBQ Wings, Bacon Mac N Cheese Burger, Cajun Chicken Alfredo, and Jalapeno Pig Poppers.

Officials at Virtual Dining Concepts — which offers several restaurant brands including Flavortown Kitchen, MrBeast Burger and Bravo! Italian Kitchen — said consumers can order from the online menu (given they’re within the delivery range) through the brand’s proprietary app or through most third-party delivery carriers such as Grubhub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats.

Rich Levy co-founded three ghost kitchen concepts in Chicago: Cluckson’s, Butterclaw Lobster Co. and GuacDog. He targeted a specific niche, corporate catering, then set a 10-person minimum for orders. Levy, a partner and one employee handle all orders; and if more help is needed for events, he finds it.

“In catering, the only time you have to be on is when the phone rings and when you show up to deliver and present the food,” Levy said.

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