Ghost restaurants are delivery only, online restaurants that skip storefronts and deliver food straight to the customer. Think Amazon for restaurants.
Fast Company's Hold The Storefront: How Delivery-Only "Ghost" Restaurants Are Changing Takeout describes the growing number of delivery only eateries that are popping up all over the country.
Ghosts are much cheaper to operate than traditional restaurants.
They don't have to have space for customer seating and they can be located in cheaper areas than traditional restaurants.
These combine to mean they pay much less in rent than traditional restaurants.
Second, Americans are cooking less and ordering more delivery food.
The third driver is ghost restaurants are embracing digital platforms and technology. For example, they are take advantage of the growth of food ordering platforms like GrubHub and Uber Eats which expose ghost restaurants to a large pool of potential customers.
They are also marketing their restaurants using digital marketing methods.
The article profiles Green Summit, a New York city based ghost with 8 online brands and two kitchens.
In addition to cost, online restaurants also have an agility advantage. This too is driven by digital technologies.
Unlike brick and mortar restaurants, Ghosts can can shift menu items and create new, branded online-only restaurants very quickly. This means they can react faster and more efficiently to changing consumer tastes.
Ghost restaurants are an interesting example of how digital transformation is impacting a wide range of industries; in this case restaurants.
Ghosts use online platforms to find customers. Their business model focuses on agility and flexibility to improve their ability to adjust to market changes. They keep their fixed costs down, reducing their risk and capital requirements by not having storefronts and partnering with delivery firms.
We're seeing these same business model attributes growing in use across the economy.