The word “cloud” seems to be attached to a lot these days. There’s cloud computing, cloud businesses, cloud payments … the list goes on and on. And now there are even cloud kitchens. These terms all have to do with moving from physical operations to virtual ones, making things more efficient, and saving money. It may be hard to grasp at first how to make your food truck operate virtually. However, leveraging a cloud kitchen to do so may very well help your food truck business survive the pandemic.
What Are Cloud Kitchens?
A cloud kitchen (also known as a ghost kitchen or a virtual kitchen), is a commercial space where restaurants, caterers, food truck operators, and others can rent out kitchen and storage space to prepare and store their food. You may already rent out a commercial kitchen, catering kitchen, or restaurant kitchen to prep your food. Most cities require food trucks to do so as part of their licensing requirements. But many food truck businesses, especially those just getting off the ground, may have found themselves in a less-than-ideal arrangement in a rental agreement with onerous rental fees, space that’s too small, or uneven facility access. Cloud Kitchens specialize in offering just the right size space that clients require depending on the size and scope of their meal prep and storage needs.
The cloud kitchen model is not limited to commercial property owners renting out space to multiple food service tenants. Some cloud kitchens even provide food preparation and delivery services to customers. During the pandemic, these services may prove life-saving to small businesses on the brink. If you’ve had to furlough nearly all or all of their employees yet still need to run your truck to pay the bills, you’re probably struggling to get everything that needs doing done. However, by taking advantage of a cloud kitchen’s meal prep services, you may be able to take a substantial load off your shoulders and manage to keep your truck open.
Some kitchens can take your menu, prepare your plates as consumers order online, then work with delivery partners like Uber Eats to distribute the food directly to them. This, too, can be a life-saving measure. Maybe your food truck was primarily stationed in a business district, and you’ve lost orders with your customers working from home. You can connect with past customers online and get their favorite dishes delivered right to their doorstep. And with a bit of online marketing savvy, you can even grow their customer base.
If your food truck is losing money, many cloud kitchens are set up to allow you to sell entirely online. In fact, some house multiple virtual-only restaurants that sell solely through delivery providers like DoorDash and Uber Eats. And some, like San Francisco-based CloudKitchens, allow you to establish carry out operations out of their kitchens. This model can be a good hedge against downturns, as Redwood Wagons food truck business owners Kyle Hood and Michael Laughlin have been learning. They’ve used their prep kitchen to establish a carryout location, which, coupled with delivery orders, are helping ends meet as their food truck business has shrunk over the past year.
Why a Cloud Kitchen May Make Sense for Your Business
Cloud kitchens can help food truck owners operate more efficiently in other ways as well. Kitchen managers handle various administrative functions necessary for you to work efficiently, safely, and in compliance with the law. They ensure that the proper health inspections occur, as required by state statutes, and ensure that the premises are secure. If you’re working in a restaurant when it’s closed, you may, unfortunately, find out one day that the owner doesn’t have all the paperwork in order or taxes or utilities paid. But because a cloud kitchen earns revenue, in large part, by providing multiple tenants a place to prep, cook, and prepare, completion of these administrative functions is a high priority.
Many cloud kitchens keep fees low through economies of scale. The more tenants they have, the more they can keep pricing affordable and offer additional services. Some cloud kitchens provide waste collection and janitorial services, among others, for an additional cost. That expense may be worth it if it helps you keep labor costs low. However, every bit of time and every penny saved are crucial to keep you in business during these lean times.
Custom Food Trucks With the Latest Technology
Cloud kitchens can also help you save time and money allowing you to expand your operation. By keeping margins low using a cloud kitchen’s meal preparation and delivery services, you may even be in the market to expand. If you’re looking to add to your line of food trucks, contact us today for more information on custom trucks for your business.