This story was last updated on March 1, 2021.
Ghost kitchens, or takeout-only restaurants, have boomed behind the scenes during the pandemic.
Why it matters: COVID-19 made already thin margins at restaurants, much worse. To bounce back, some have opened ghost kitchens to earn revenue without all the upfront costs of a brick-and-mortar space or even a food truck.
The City Kitch is a prime example. The commercial cooking facility in Wesley Heights has become a ghost kitchen collective of sorts with over eight concepts housed under one roof.
“This ghost kitchen has allowed me, and City Kitch allowed me to be able to start my business and start building my brand,” Corey Jones of Mad Dash tells me.
Jones started his business in October and originally planned to operate out of a food truck, but realized that he would have to come up with more money upfront.
In addition to the lower overhead and upfront costs, Jones also explains how the ghost kitchen concept allows him to be more creative and spontaneous with his menu offerings. “I can change up menus, I’m not stuck in something like I would be as a brick-and-mortar.”
Zoom out: Ghost kitchens actually pre-date the pandemic but have become more prevalent due to the decrease in dine-in customers and increase in demand for food delivery.
“The majority of ghost kitchens are small businesses trying to make it,” says Jones.
How it works: You can order takeout or delivery from almost all City Kitch vendors via its website or via the individual businesses listed below. The City Kitch is located at 2200 Thrift Road near Summit Seltzer and Lucky Dog.
What’s next: The City Kitch also has a location in University, and it’ll open a Greensboro location this summer.
Here are some of the current tenants:
New American-fare like burgers and chicken sandwiches.
Must-try item: The Dasher Chicken sandwich (and don’t forget the hand-cut fries).
Asian-inspired street food.
Must-try item: The dumpling flight. The flavors included are pork & chive (white), beef & carrot (yellow), veggie (green), chicken & mushroom (pink), and shrimp & chicken (violet).
Known for its quesabirria tacos.
Must-try item: The salmon birria tacos.
Online cookie boutique offering rotating weekly flavors and variety boxes.
Must-try item: It’s a tie between the confetti cookie and the half-baked cookie (two in the bottom right).
Healthy meal prep and high-volume meal delivery.
Must-try item: There’s a new menu every week, so order frequently to discover your favorites.
Japanese-owned Asian street-food shop with a small dine-in area.
Must-try item: The Tokyo Shoyu ramen. It’s made with chicken broth, a soy base, pork belly, bean sprouts, scallions, bamboo shoots, egg, and sesame seeds.
Cajun southern comfort food.
Must-try item: The chicken and sausage gumbo.
Vegan soul and comfort food.
Must-try item: Crispy Unchick’n sandwich. It looks like chicken, it tastes like chicken, but it is 100% vegan.