The New Yorker has a deep dive into the world of ghost kitchens and how they may be the future - and in many ways are the present - of the restaurant business.
"In major American cities that continue to shelter in place or that are only inching toward reopening, every restaurant kitchen is now, in one way or another, a ghost kitchen. Across the country, restaurateurs have gotten creative. Some have converted overnight into greenmarkets or grocery stores. Some offer bottled mixed cocktails, or the contents of their pantries and wine cellars, or they host cocktail courses and wine-tasting classes on Zoom. Some are pivoting permanently, redesigning their interiors and menus to better fit into a future of fast-casual, carry-away fare. Some have partnered with local nonprofits to feed first responders. Reem’s California, a restaurant with locations in Oakland and San Francisco, has converted one location into a commissary kitchen to serve vulnerable community members during the pandemic. Flexibility is the order of the day."
While the model is impressive, not to mention "an increasingly crowded space" and a reflection of "the logic of the digital marketplace," writer Anna Wiener says that "it is also a little sad. Decentralized, delivery-only restaurants - to say nothing of the WeWork-ification of restaurant kitchens - point to greater problems and complexities, like widening inequality, the high cost of living in coastal cities, the tenuous financial model of restaurants, and a culture in which, whether by preference or necessity, people prioritize convenience even in their leisure activities."
In other words, one of our potential futures.
The piece is totally worth reading here.