What Are Ghost Restaurants?

If you're tuned into restaurant trends, you may have heard of ghost restaurants. These new types of foodservice establishments are increasing in popularity as more and more restaurateurs decide to depart from traditional brick-and-mortar establishments and focus on delivery instead. If you want to learn more about what ghost restaurants are, how they work, and how you can start a successful one, keep reading.

What Is a Ghost Restaurant?

A ghost restaurant, also known as a virtual restaurant or delivery-only restaurant, is a foodservice establishment that offers take-out only. These “ghostly” eateries don’t have a storefront, so customers can’t come to pick up their own food. Ghost restaurants deliver food directly to their patrons, often through the use of third-party delivery services.

Generally, virtual restaurants function just like traditional restaurants, in that customers’ food is prepared once they order it. As a result, many establishments offer a lot of customization options for their menu items.

Where Do Ghost Restaurants Work Best?

what is a ghost restaurant

This type of foodservice model is especially great for high-rent areas. Instead of hoping to find a prime location to draw foot traffic, restaurateurs can establish their virtual restaurant in any neighborhood they see fit, so long as their delivery service can easily access customers.

Many popular fast-casual establishments in cities are bound by the requirement for seating and waiting space, even though a large percentage of their customers aren’t dining in. So, offering only delivery helps virtual restaurants avoid the problem of underutilized space.

What Can Ghost Restaurants Do That Traditional Restaurants Can’t?

Without a brick-and-mortar location, ghost restaurants allow more flexibility of concept. Being app- or web-based means that you can change your menu whenever you like, without having to worry about updating signage or printed materials. If an ingredient becomes too expensive or is no longer accessible in your area, you can easily swap out your menu items to suit what is available to you.

If you choose to open a virtual restaurant, you can be more creative than you could with a traditional establishment. Compared to a brick-and-mortar eatery, your investment in a ghost restaurant is small. Think about all the expensive elements that don’t apply to virtual restaurants: decor, signage, dinnerware, and additional staff members to serve as servers or hosts. Ghost restaurants are the perfect opportunity to experiment with new concepts, because you can easily scrap ideas that aren’t working.

What Is a Ghost Restaurant Kitchen Like?

In virtual restaurants, the kitchen is where a lot of your investment goes. Because you don’t have to allow square footage for a dining area, you have much more room to customize your kitchen space. Depending on your budget, you can opt for some specialized cooking equipment that you probably never had room for in a traditional restaurant.

You can even own multiple ghost restaurants and operate them out of the same kitchen. Especially if your menus have ingredient overlap, you can prepare food for two separate concepts in one efficient space.

If owning or leasing a customizable space isn’t in your budget, you can work in a commissary kitchen. A commissary kitchen is a complete kitchen space that is available for rent. Although some commissaries are shared, it is usually best for ghost restaurateurs to rent private commissaries. While other commissary users, like caterers and food truck operators, need the kitchen space for prep time, you’ll need it for the same hours that you’d need a traditional restaurant kitchen. As a result, working out a schedule with other users could be challenging.

How Do I Get Customers for My Ghost Restaurant?

what are ghost restaurants

Since a ghost restaurant can’t rely on foot traffic for patrons, it is important that these businesses have savvy marketing approaches. This being said, flexibility and nearly-instant gratification are two things that make ghost restaurants the perfect foodservice business to cater to young customers. Especially if you choose to target teens and young adults as your customer base, it is best that your virtual restaurant has a strong online presence.

Partner with Food Delivery Apps

Many ghost restaurateurs opt to partner with take-out apps to attract customers. If you become a featured restaurant on one of these apps, you can gain exposure to customers who have the immediate intention of ordering. As a bonus, these apps arrange to pick up your customers’ food when it is ready, and they also deliver it to them. With these apps, all you need to worry about is preparing orders for delivery.

Create an Attractive Website That Is Easy to Use

If no food ordering apps are available in your area, or if you’d prefer to handle these processes in-house, make sure that your restaurant has a quality website that is equipped with a functional online order form.

To bring customers to your website, create social media accounts where potential patrons can discover you. Post frequently and encourage your customers to tag you if they share posts about their food. When they do, interact with them. Without this online presence, your faceless restaurant could suffer from being out of sight and out of mind.

If you want to try an experimental restaurant concept and you're unsure about investing in a storefront, opening a ghost restaurant could be the best option for you. These virtual restaurants are becoming increasingly popular in metropolitan areas, and they cater to busy, young customers who like customization and instant gratification. Overall, these delivery-only restaurants provide both owners and customers with flexibility that isn't generally found in traditional establishments.

Posted in: Advertising & Marketing | Management & Operation | By Christine Potts

How Restaurant Color Schemes Affect Your Customers

Restaurant interior color scheme

The colors that you use to decorate your foodservice establishment have a huge impact on your customers, how long they spend in your operation, and how they feel. Colors can make your customers happy, boost their appetite, increase table turnover, and make your dining space seem more spacious. But, they can also have a negative affect on your customers, so it's important to understand how your interior color choices affect your restaurant's message. To do this, you first need to understand the psychology of colors and then learn how colors go together into a pleasing and complementary color scheme.

The Psychology of Colors

Because various colors can affect your guests in different ways, they are powerful tools for shaping how your customers behave in your restaurant. It also means that you can't just choose colors for your walls and decorations arbitrarily, and you'll have to use thought when choosing your restaurant's color scheme. Here is a brief summary of how common colors affect your customers and which types of establishments might utilize them:

Color Effect Establishments That Use This Color
Red Red increases your guests' heart rates and can make them hungry. It can also make your guests eat quickly and leave, which is useful for increasing your table turnover rate. Fast food restaurants, fast casual restaurants, establishments that want a high table turnover
Orange Orange makes people feel happy and cheerful. It's also excellent for establishments that serve desserts or unhealthy food because it makes people content and less likely to feel guilty for eating poorly. Fast food restaurants, ice cream shops, casual eateries
Yellow Some shades of bright yellow have a similar impact as orange, making people happy and content. Generally, yellow is very vibrant and exciting, so it's not an ideal choice for relaxed environments. Fast casual restaurants, ethnic eateries, bistros, cafes
Green Earthy tones like green are very relaxing and comforting. Green is found commonly in nature, making it an excellent choice for establishments that serve healthy and natural foods. Health food stores, salad bars, vegetarian and vegan restaurants
Brown Brown is an earthy color that helps guests relax and feel comfortable. It can also give customers a sense of support and stability, and it can even convince guests to come back as repeat customers. Coffee shops, bistros, contemporary restaurants, bars
Blue Blue is a color that most restaurants should avoid. It's not commonly found naturally in food, and it can cause your customers to lose their appetites. Additionally, if you have bright blue walls, the shade of blue can reflect onto your food and make it look less appetizing. Blue reduces customers' appetites, but it makes them thirsty. Bars, coffee shops, cafes, nightclubs, seaside restaurants
White This color gives your space a relaxed and leisurely feel. White can also make your dining area look clean, and it can make a small space seem larger. But, too much white can make your dining area look sterile. Small restaurants and bistros, upscale eateries, banquet halls, wedding venues
Black You can use black strategically to make the other colors in your restaurant pop and look more vibrant, but too much black can make your space look cramped and dark. Nightclubs, bars, contemporary restaurants

5 Color Scheme Ideas

Now that you know how colors will affect your customers, you need to understand which colors go together and how to make a pleasing color scheme. For readers that don't have much interior decorating experience, we created a list of some versatile and popular color schemes to give you an idea of what colors go together. Here are five interior color scheme ideas:

1. Light Color Scheme

Colors: Ivory, beige, white, pale yellow, light gray

A light color scheme is often used a make a smaller room look bigger than it is. Additionally, light colors evoke a leisurely and relaxing atmosphere, which makes them an excellent choice for upscale restaurants and bistros. But, due to the relaxed and comfortable nature of this color scheme, it's not ideal for restaurants that want a high turnover rate.

Light Color Scheme

2. Dark Color Scheme

Colors: Crimson, brown, purple, navy, dark green

A dark color scheme is excellent for creating intimate and romantic settings, which is perfect for some bars, trendy restaurants, and romantic bistros. But, if you use too many dark colors or very dark shades, it can make your space feel cramped and claustrophobic.

Dark Color Scheme

3. Warm Color Scheme

Colors: Yellow, terracotta, orange, red, gold

Warm colors are very exciting and bright, and they provide a lot of visual stimulation for your guests. But, because these colors are so bright, they can become irritating after a long period of time. This helps to increase your turnover rate, which makes warm color schemes ideal for high-volume establishments like fast causal eateries, buffets, or fast food restaurants. But, because warm color schemes can be overwhelming, you don't want to overdo it.

Warm Color Scheme

4. Earthy Color Scheme

Colors: Brown, olive green, beige, umber, dark orange

This color scheme is supposed to reflect colors that are found commonly in nature, and it features lots of browns and greens as well as some neutral colors. An earthy color scheme is ideal for relaxed and welcoming environments, like cafes. This color scheme has also grown in popularity recently, so you can find it in many trendy restaurants as well. Additionally, color schemes that prominently feature green and brown are excellent choices for establishments that are focused on healthy foods.

Earthy Color Scheme

5. Pastel Color Scheme

Colors: Sky blue, pink, light yellow, lavender, pale green

The pastel color scheme is very light and soft, and it is most often used in settings like bistros, cafes, and casual eateries. But, because these colors are very light, they have an almost neutral tone to them that can fit in with most types of decor. This color scheme was very popular in the 1980s, and it is becoming popular again in trendy restaurants and bistros in major cities across the U.S.

Pastel Color Scheme

Choosing a restaurant color scheme is very important because the shades you use to decorate your business can have a big effect on your customers. To choose the ideal color scheme, you should think about what kind of experience you want your customers to have in your restaurant. Additionally, for modern establishments, you may want to consider the types of decor and color schemes that are popular. But, regardless of what colors you use in your operation, you should make sure that they are true to your purpose.

Posted in: Facility Design & Decor | Management & Operation | By Richard Traylor

What Is a Monkey Dish and What Is It Used For? We Explain

Foodservice is a large industry, and there is a lot of jargon and terms that common people may not be familiar with. One such term is "monkey dish." Based on the name, you might think that monkey dishes are plates that are intended for serving monkeys, are shaped like monkeys, or feature a monkey design. The truth is much simpler, and you have almost certainly used monkey dishes before, just without knowing that was their name.

What Is a Monkey Dish?

Monkey Dish
Shop Monkey Dishes starting at $19.50

A monkey dish is a small bowl with a flat bottom that is used for serving side dishes or dipping sauces.

They come in a variety of colors and styles, and you can find them in restaurants, diners, cafeterias, and bistros all over the world. Additionally, because they are small, they are the perfect piece to use for serving sauces and condiments that accompany a main dish. They may also be used for serving appetizers and side dishes, such as assorted fruits, applesauce, and hummus.

You might be wondering, how did such a simple piece of dinnerware get such a unique name? Here is some additional information about monkey dishes and where they came from.

Where Does the Name "Monkey Dish" Come From?

Monkey dishes can be found in all sorts of establishments in the foodservice industry, but where did the name come from? There isn't a conclusive answer to where the name started, but there are many interesting stories regarding its origin. Here are three of the most popular theories:

  1. Some say that the name came from organ grinders in the mid-1800s. Organ grinders were street performers that would play music using a barrel organ. Many organ grinders had pet monkeys that would dance to the music and collect tips from people passing by. Some people theorize that these dishes are called "monkey dishes" because they resemble the bowls that the monkeys would use to collect money.
  2. Another theory states that monkey dishes were originally made from the skulls of monkeys, which gave the pieces their name.
  3. Hundreds of years ago, kings and queens would have monkeys test their food to see if it was poisoned. A piece of each food would be given to the monkey in a small bowl to taste test, hence the name.

Monkey Dish vs Ramekin

Monkey Dish
Monkey Dishes from $35.23

Monkey dishes are similar to ramekins, but there are a few key distinctions. Ramekins and monkey dishes are both small, but typically ramekins have higher walls on the side and are deeper. Monkey dishes, on the other hand, are wider and flatter. Additionally, many ramekins are used in the oven for baking, but most monkey dishes are not used for food prep.

There are many theories surrounding the origins of monkey dishes, but no one can really say for sure where they got their name. Either way, monkey dishes are useful pieces of dinnerware that are used in a variety of foodservice settings, so it’s useful for chefs to learn about them.

Posted in: Product Spotlights | By Richard Traylor

The Best Winter Beers for 2018

As colder temperatures begin to set in across the country, your beer-drinking customers want to explore new styles typically associated with the winter months. Many of these brews offer a full, rich body and a thick mouthfeel or spicy character that's sure to warm your guests up.

From doppelbocks and Russian imperial stouts to barleywines and Scotch ales, our list of the best winter brews will help you please your patrons while also increasing the diversity of your beer list. Additionally, you'll find delicious food and beer pairings that will help these winter brews stand out and taste even more delicious!


Bocks have a long and storied history that dates back to medieval times, although some scholars believe they were even brewed by earlier pagan societies. These brews are bottom-fermented lagers that require a few extra months of cold storage, which contributes to their smooth taste. Doppelbocks offer enhanced malty flavors, an even more full-bodied mouthfeel, and higher alcohol levels than standard bocks, too. These beers are best enjoyed with red meat, pork, and sharp cheeses.

Give These a Try:

  • Tröegs Troegenator Double Bock (Hershey, PA), 8.2% ABV
  • Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock (Aying, Germany), 6.7% ABV
  • Bell's Consecrator Doppelbock (Kalamazoo, MI), 8.0% ABV
  • Weihenstephaner Korbinian (Freising, Germany), 7.4% ABV

Russian Imperial Stouts

A dark beer

Often referred to as the king of stouts, Russian imperial stouts were originally created in the nineteenth century by brewers looking to curry favor with Queen Catherine II. These beers are top-fermenting ales that usually offer high alcohol by volume, low levels of carbonation, and burnt, malty flavors. Most Russian imperial stouts also feature tastes of dark fruit and little to no hop character. Try serving these hearty brews alongside oysters, chocolate, and soft cheeses.

Give These a Try:

  • North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout (Fort Bragg, CA), 9.0% ABV
  • Oskar Blues Ten FIDY (Lyons, CO), 10.5% ABV
  • Stone Imperial Russian Stout (Escondido, CA), 10.6% ABV
  • Founders Imperial Stout (Grand Rapids, MI), 10.5% ABV

Baltic Porters

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many Western European brewers began creating strong, robust porters to be shipped across the North Sea to the Baltic regions. These beers were often supplemented by the addition of stale ales, which added an acidic flavor that beer drinkers loved. Baltic porters are top-fermenting ales that offer a smoky, roasted, and malty character and full-bodied mouthfeel your guests will love. Consider serving them with barbecued meats, stews, and semi-hard cheeses.

Give These a Try:

  • Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter (Frederick, MD), 9.2% ABV
  • Jack's Abby Barrel-Aged Framinghammer (Framingham, MA), 10.0% ABV
  • Smuttynose Baltic Porter (Hampton, NH), 9.24% ABV
  • Sixpoint Brewery 4Beans (Brooklyn, NY), 10.0% ABV


Friends drinking beer

A barleywine is a style of strong ale that's typically characterized by high alcohol by volume, a bittersweet taste, and a thick, rich mouthfeel. These top-fermenting beers were originally brewed by the ancient Greeks, who stored their barleywine in silver and gold kraters. While American-style barleywines are intensely hopped for a more bitter and hop-forward taste, English varieties tend to offer a more balanced combination of malt and hops. These beers are best enjoyed with cured meats, Italian food, and creamy cheeses.

Give These a Try:

  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale (Chico, CA), 9.6% ABV
  • Victory Old Horizontal (Downingtown, PA), 11.0% ABV
  • Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale (Chicago, IL), 13.6% ABV
  • Weyerbacher Insanity Ale Aged in Oak Barrels (Easton, PA), 11.1% ABV

Scotch Ales (Wee Heavys)

Scotch ales are top-fermenting brews that were originally served in small quantities (thus, the "wee heavy" nickname) for a few schillings in nineteenth-century Scotland. This style is boiled extensively in kettles, which creates toasty caramelization and sweet, full-bodied flavors. Many Scotch ales also offer higher alcohol by volume, making them perfect for cold winter days. Try serving these tasty brews with gamey meats, spicy foods, and creamy desserts.

Give These a Try:

  • Kennett Brewing Co. WEE Wobbly Scottish 100 Schilling (Kennett Square, PA), 5.5% ABV
  • Orkney Brewery Skull Splitter (Orkney, Scotland), 8.5% ABV
  • Dark Horse Scotty Karate Scotch Ale (Marshall, MI), 9.75% ABV
  • Thirsty Dog Wulver (Akron, OH), 12.0% ABV

Winter Warmers

Three beers on a table

Winter warmers are top-fermenting ales that offer plenty of malty and sweet flavors alongside a balanced hop character. Many of these tasty brews are blended with spices, which give the style its trademark "warmth." Traditionally, English strong ales and spiced Wassail beers fall under the umbrella of winter warmers, so be sure to keep plenty of these brews on hand during the winter months. Consider serving them with poultry, baked goods, and fruit.

Give These a Try:

  • Great Lakes Christmas Ale (Cleveland, OH), 7.5% ABV
  • Deschutes Jubelale (Bend, OR), 6.7% ABV
  • Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale (Boonville, CA), 6.9% ABV
  • Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale (Asheville, NC), 5.8% ABV

From Baltic porters to spiced Wassails, our list of the best winter beers is full of uniquely delicious brews. Whether you run a brewery, craft beer bar, or upscale bistro, offering your customers plenty of winter beers to enjoy over the colder months will warm them up and increase your sales. If you're looking to take your beer service to the next level, check out our brewery tasting room supplies!

Posted in: Seasonal | Bars & Breweries | By Nora Fulmer
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