Giving up the (traditional) restaurant ghost

Finweek English25 June 2020

Giving up the (traditional) restaurant ghost
The concept of ‘ghost’ kitchens, which are restaurants that operate purely on a delivery basis, has gained traction abroad and South Africa is catching on.
Jana Jacobs

Ghost, dark or cloud kitchens – also known as virtual restaurants – are commercial facilities purpose-built to run restaurant kitchens on a delivery-only basis. Although still a relatively novel concept in South Africa, there are a few in operation locally and their low-cost business model is providing a unique advantage amid the Covid-19 lockdown.

Anthony Theodosiou, who runs a ghost kitchen in Johannesburg with his business partner, Jake Axelrod, talks to finweek about why he did away with his traditional dine-in eatery in Melrose Arch in favour of this model.

Can you tell us how your business works?

Myself and my business partner, Jake, run three brands (ONO, Metalab Meals, and Pap ’n Chuck) out of one kitchen space located in the industrial side of Sandton. We use UberEats as a platform to deliver our meals. This platform only works for the immediate 5km around our site. So, to target a larger market and reduce the commission structure that UberEats charges us, we are launching our own web platform that we will run, which will facilitate the delivery of our brands across Johannesburg.

What made you decide to forgo your sit-down eatery?

I spent three years in retail spaces only to come away with a lot of effort expelled for very little return. The rentals were just too high for the level of foot traffic these retail spaces were ‘promising’. Without a license to sell alcohol, a restaurant needs to sell high-volume; low feet = low volume.

Do you think switching to this model puts you in a better position going into lockdown than if you’d still been operating on the dine-in model?

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25 June 2020