Ghost kitchens: Do the numbers work for you? Ghost kitchens are continuing their climb: By 2030, they are predicted to hold a 50 percent share of the drive-thru and takeaway foodservice markets, respectively, according to Statista. As restaurant operators think about the best ways to serve existing customers and tap into new markets, ghost kitchens could be an important part of a business strategy. Perhaps you had to close a brick-and-mortar location before or during the pandemic – or you want to enter a new market that sounds like a good match for your brand. You could open a small brick-and-mortar location in a high-traffic area to collect information. But you may be able to gain the same – or better – insights with a ghost kitchen operating with a much smaller real estate footprint in a less-expensive area. Ghost kitchens’ ability to help brands test market viability in a low-risk way is exactly why brands like Famous Dave’s consider them to be important to their business model. As Al Hank, COO of Famous Dave’s parent company BBQ Holdings Inc., said in an interview with 1851 Franchise: “That is typically a multi-million-dollar test, and you never know what the outcome is going to be, but ghost kitchens allow you to do it in a much more cost-effective manner.” So exactly how cost-effective might a ghost kitchen be for you? Dan Fleischmann of the restaurant equity investor Kitchen Fund developed a ghost kitchen calculator, available at Restaurant Dive, to help concepts get an initial sense of whether a ghost-kitchen concept might make financial sense. You plug in some key data about the business, cost structure and volume assumptions, then the calculator projects the resulting profit or loss, as well as the return on invested capital.