Finnish ‘ghost kitchens’ testing out trillion dollar restaurant trend

EATR's four branded restaurants in eastern Helsinki can operate with lower overheads since they only offer food via online ordering.

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File picture of dishes on offer from ghost kitchens / Credit: EATR

Finnish kitchen are starting to cash in on a trillion-dollar restaurant trend that’s forecast to change the way we think of food services.

Ghost kitchens – also known as cloud kitchens, or virtual kitchens – don’t have bricks and mortar premises where customers can go to eat dinner, but exist instead only in the world of delivery apps, and usually come with strongly-branded concepts appealing to specific foodie demographics.

In a time of coronavirus, with people perhaps reluctant to go out and eat, ghost kitchens offer a tasty new, cheaper-to-run, alternative for restaurateurs. And it’s not just smaller  startups getting in on the action: last year in London McDonald’s launched its first ghost kitchen to keep up with demand for deliveries.

Globally, China (7,500+) and India (3,500+) lead the international market for ghost kitchens according to industry website RestaurantDive; while there’s 1,500 ghost kitchens in the US and another 750 in the UK. Allied Market Research estimates the sector could be worth $71.4 billion by 2027, and Euromonitor says globally these virtual restaurants could be a trillion dollar business by 2030.

Branding for four new EATR ghost kitchens launched in Helsinki, July 2020 / Credit: EATR

Launching pilot ghost kitchen concept in Helsinki

Seeing the growth potential of the ghost kitchen concept, one Helsinki-based restaurant company has opened four of them for a trial.

EATR’s restaurants, each with different branding and menu themes, with customers able to order from any of them for the same delivery.

“This kind of business exploded during the corona crisis and of course for our company, because we know the people want to eat at home all the time, more and more” says Julius Jurvanen, Chief Operating Officer of EATR.

EATR’s four distinct brands are Brooklyn Diner, serving American food; Tai Aroi offers classic Thai dishes; Jaipur Curry House serves traditional Indian flavours; and Baba Jan focuses on modern Indian street food.

“All the restaurants came from our brainstorm. We have cooks that have experience of Indian kitchen, that’s why it was a natural choice. And of course, in Finland, all the Orient food has a really good boost at the moment, so we took Thai food also. And burger is always a safe choice, because Finnish people love burgers” Jurvanen tells News Now Finland.

The company has followed ghost kitchen developments in the US and India to learn more about the concept.

“We have learned from there and we have a great believe, that this is the future also in Finland. That is why we want it to be like in the front line, doing that kind of business” says Julius Jurvanen.

For now, food from the four ghost kitchens can only be ordered through their own EATR app, or from the online store at www.eatr.fi.

The company has plans to expand the concept to other cities if the east Helsinki test project goes well.