How restaurants are finding new life in 'ghost kitchens'

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, February 12, 2021
How restaurants are finding new life in 'ghost kitchens'
It's called a 'Ghost Kitchen' - and they cook only delivery. Everything is online.

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- In a tiny basement kitchen on the Upper West Side, burritos and nachos share space with ramen-dusted fries. They are two completely different restaurant concepts with not one table.

"No, there's nothing normal about this at all," said Kevin Shin.

It's called a 'Ghost Kitchen' - and they cook only delivery. Everything is online.

Shin says King Wang's and the Great Burrito have turned a profit in a matter of months. It is the ultimate pivot while indoor dining has been forbidden.

"This is the way the model has to work now. You don't have the indoor dining capacity you used to have. And doing that, we need to make sure that people can survive," Shin added.

The pair of virtual restaurants are hidden away in the back of a kitchen at the bottom of a staircase. At the top of the staircase is a real restaurant on Columbus Avenue - a brand new sushi bar that will open to indoor dining on Friday.

When Governor Cuomo lifts restrictions on dining inside, there will still be a cap on capacity - just 25 percent. Without the ghost kitchen downstairs sharing the costs, Chef Max Zumwalt says he wouldn't even try to open upstairs

"It's a lifesaver," he says, "The restaurant industry in general, you don't know what's going to happen day-to-day. So if you don't have an open mind, you're not going to get very far."

After a year like no other, the ghosts of the restaurant industry haunt nearly every corner.

Now, there's new life - in a ghost kitchen.

ALSO READ | Some restaurants say 25% capacity isn't enough

On Friday, indoor dining resumes at restaurants in New York City at 25% capacity.
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