It wasn’t so long ago that ghost kitchens felt like a must-have tool in a restaurant operator’s portfolio, offering flexibility with menu offerings, greater control over overhead costs, and simply a means of getting restaurant-quality food to consumers during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, as people look to restaurants as gathering places and lean on grocery stores for more of their at-home dining needs amid high inflation, many ghost kitchens are facing headwinds. While some ghost kitchen brands are growing, particularly when they have backing from large restaurant conglomerates, there have been more closures of virtual brands in recent months – even for well-established restaurants including Chili’s and Wendy’s. Industry analysts say that consumer concerns about quality control and uneven familiarity with tech-driven and restaurant-driven ghost kitchen brands could be part of it. As a result, expect to see new hybrid ghost kitchen models emerge that may lack dining rooms but do have physical locations, staff and even event space that guests can visit to better connect with the brand. It’s another lesson for restaurant operators in how times and consumer habits can shift so quickly, calling for rapid adaptations. Having the tools, systems and menu flexibility that allow you to be nimble may be the best investment. It’s important to be able to scale different parts of your business up or down based on the insights you’re gaining from your data – and retain the power of your brand in the process.