When the pandemic hit the restaurant industry, it found a way to sustain itself with a new business model- Cloud kitchens. The Cloud kitchen model emerged as the most cost-effective solution for small scale businesses. Due to the regulations and restrictions of the government, all the restaurants which had to shut down their front-of-the-house service, kept their kitchen running in order to make profits. Just by merely serving online orders coming in through third-party aggregators, the restaurant businesses adapted this unconventional model of opening a Cloud kitchen. With the spike in online food orders, the Cloud kitchens were able to expand and outgrow the traditional restaurant models in the market.
WHAT IS A CLOUD KITCHEN?
Cloud kitchens are also known as the ‘Ghost kitchens, ‘Dark kitchens’ or ‘Virtual Kitchens. The Cloud kitchens are delivery-only restaurant models without any dine-in setup. Such restaurants provide their food through their own delivery services or have partnered with third-party online ordering and delivery platforms like Swiggy, Zomato, Dunzo etc.
The structure of the Cloud kitchen is much simple compared to the traditional restaurant model. There are comparatively lesser investment and overhead expenses. But every other aspect or expense that goes into creating a Cloud kitchen is non-negotiable. Keep reading further to know about
How to open your own cloud kitchen?
1. Find The Right Location
Just like any other restaurant, it is equally important for Cloud kitchen to have the right place. When talking about the place, it doesn’t necessarily mean infrastructure or landmark locations but more about finding a place from where you can connect with the customers and deliver food conveniently. Cloud kitchens work on a delivery-only model and hence would only be able to sustain if they are easily accessibly to the customer for food delivery and can deliver in time.
Cloud kitchens do not need much space for dine-in, parking, reception or waiting, etc. and so, restaurateurs can save on these expenses. But at the same time, Cloud kitchen does need proper space for storage, space for setting kitchen equipment, delivery stations, electricity generators, water supply, and air vents.
2. Acquire Licenses
All kinds of businesses need their legal processes done and verified. For restaurants too, there are many documents that need to be done. Restaurants need to get a FASSI license, GST Registration, Municipal health trade license, fire licence and health trade license and many other such documents before starting a business. An ideal way to go would be to consult a legal professional or visit government provided websites for better understanding.
3. Set-up Equipment and Packing
For a Cloud kitchen, the most essential investment is kitchen equipment. What kind of cuisine the brand would serve? what is the target audience? and what is the menu? such questions help in finalising what equipment would be put in the kitchen. Acquiring the ideal equipment helps staff in preparing food quickly and efficiently without sacrificing the taste.
Another essential investment for a cloud kitchen is packing and storing. Now that restaurateurs are understanding the importance of sustainable business practices, they are opting for bio-degradable or reusable packaging materials. Along with food delivery, they are offering paper cups, plates, boxes, jars, straws and utensils.
4. Analyze Market & Competitors
The above pointers are more on the technical side and about the processes of opening a Cloud kitchen. But even for a Cloud kitchen owner, it is necessary to analyse and understand the market it intends to cater to. With the rise in online delivery, restauranteurs discovered a new market and rushed to retain profits. But this increased competition. To survive the impact of Covid-19, even renowned restaurants jumped on the trend and started their own Cloud kitchens.
For example, Mariotte Hotels started its Cloud kitchen brand ‘Marriott Bonvoy on wheels’ which provided online ordering and home delivery services. And so, before opening a Cloud kitchen, the market must be surveyed, the menu and cuisine should be finalised, raw material suppliers have to be acquired and most importantly, the staff should be hired and trained well.
5. Find the Best-fit PoS Technology
Even in Cloud kitchen, many things and operations need to be managed. Be it inventory, sales, online orders, payment and profits. Managing all of this can be overwhelming. When the market witnessed a spike in the Cloud kitchen restaurants, there was also massive development in technology to cater for this new kind of client and help them expand.
Modern-day restaurant PoS has been handling this role and many more, efficiently. With an integrated PoS system, the Cloud kitchen can manage all its orders from all different platforms in one place. With the online order management feature, the staff can manage all their online orders in one space. Many cloud kitchens have multiple outlets or manage cloud kitchens for other restaurants. An efficient PoS can help create a centralised kitchen for all outlets and assist in managing menus, inventory, sales and online orders.
Managing online orders, building restaurant websites, managing online menus and taking online payments can all be done with the help of the smart Petpooja PoS. Petpooja PoS helps in integrating menu and payment modes with third-party apps, managing inventory and providing updated sales reports so that the restauranteur is assisted in growing the business.
6. Integrate with Third-party Aggregators
Cloud kitchens working without a third-party aggregator is like a business running without any finance. These aggregators are essential in acquiring customers and marketing products. Most online food ordering platforms like Swiggy, Zomato, Amazon Food, etc. charge one-time aggregation fees and charge a certain percentage of revenue from every sale. These platforms help reach new clients. Any changes or updates in the menu can be marketed through third-party aggregators. Along with them, online or digital payment integrations are equally important in Cloud kitchen as the majority of the business comes digitally. With the rise of Covid-19, touchless payment has also increased. Providing customer QR codes, payment links or phone numbers linked to payment portals can ease the payment process. These tasks can be hectic and time-consuming, but by switching to a restaurant PoS software all of these integrations can be done in a few clicks!
7. Build your own Website
Even though it might not seem essential, a restaurant website is a must even for the cloud kitchen. A restaurant website acts as a portal for the cloud kitchen to take customer orders, market its existing satisfied client base and expand the business. With no actual restaurant present, the website becomes the only point of contact between the customer and the kitchen to place orders or give necessary feedback. Building a website can seem like a daunting task, but there are many website builder tools that assist restauranteurs in website building.
There are many bodies of research and business analysts which are predicting Cloud kitchen to be a successful business model with higher revenue opportunities. But the existing restaurateurs are still getting used to this kind of kitchen and understanding the ideal way to run the business through trial and error. Despite its own drawbacks, more and more cloud kitchens are coming into the market. And smart PoS softwares like Petpooja are helping them in optimizing their restaurant management.
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