Don’t try to visit the restaurant you’re ordering from until you find out if it really exists. Because it may not be an actual brick and mortar restaurant you’re getting your take-out or delivery from. The newest trend in dining in New Jersey is “Ghost restaurants,”—eateries that operate either on or off the property of an actual restaurant and only offer take-out or delivery.

An article on tapinto.net explains exactly how popular this trend has become. It involves off-site meal prep, with no restaurant to actually sit down and eat in. Their menus are available as take-out or delivery only. Sometimes these “restaurants” prepare meals in shared spaces, and sometimes they are part of an existing brick and mortar restaurant, but with a completely different menu.

There are situations where one restaurant operates four or five different ghost eateries from a sole kitchen. In other words, “Sushi King,” “Wings ‘n More,” “Fred’s Barbecue,” and “Pizza Boy,” all operate out of “Café Montego.” Get it? Other times, restaurant owners have opted to operate their ghost kitchen out of a cooperative space, creating an alternative revenue stream with very low overhead. For instance, the article describes the system at one of these cooperative kitchens called Garden State Kitchen in Orange. GSK provides a place for dozens of eateries to operate under one roof.

Right now, they have over 60 chef/owners using the kitchens there. The piece also quotes the National Restaurant Association’s statistic that 68% of people are more likely to opt for takeout now than before the pandemic. So this type of non-physical restaurant is flourishing.

No one knows the future of these “ghost kitchens” after the Pandemic is over. But now that people have gotten used to eating restaurant food at home, and restaurateurs have gotten used to the extra revenue this system provides, I think the “Ghost Restaurant” concept is here to stay.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

Judi's double decker eggplant chicken marinara recipe