A Moncton restaurateur has launched a new virtual food service that he hopes will appeal to people’s varied appetites during and after the pandemic.
Robert Taylor and his family recently launched a new takeout-only food service called East Coast Restaurants Group, which he says is Atlantic Canada’s first “virtual” or “ghost” kitchen, offering 12 different concepts and menus all in one space.
“Take-out food and delivery systems have become at the forefront of the restaurant business especially during the pandemic”, said Taylor, co-owner of the business.
There are no tables or servers for dining at his location on St. Geroge Boulevard in Moncton. Food orders, Taylor said, are made primarily online offering food delivery options from a host of branded takeouts all under one roof.
“We have 12 different restaurants in one kitchen and what that means is that we have 12 different concepts being cooked under one roof”, said Taylor, who owns the 12 brands.
“It’s the future of restaurants.”
Restaurants Canada’s vice-president for Atlantic Canada said the ghost kitchen concept started before the pandemic, but has become a growing trend across Canada amid restaurant shutdowns and COVID-19 restrictions.
“With the advent of technology and the explosion of delivery services and third-party delivery services, it is definitely a trend that is here to stay,” said Luc Erjavec.
The concept, he said, saves on overhead costs compared to dine-in restaurants, many of which at still struggling financially running at only 50 per cent capacity in parts of Canada.
“You are operating some prime real estate, which is very expensive,” he said.
“This way, you can be in some removed location with cheaper rent and less staff.”
According to a report released this week by Restaurants Canada, 78 per cent of Canadians have ordered delivery from a restaurant in the last six months and nearly half of people polled said they will order delivery about the same once the pandemic subsides.
Erjavec said polls show the virtual kitchen concept is more popular among tech-savvy millennials.
“I think it is going to be an important stream. Will it kill the indoor restaurant? Definitely not,” he said.
“I don’t think so. It will be a stream of revenue and an avenue for customers to enjoy their favorite meals.”
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