Back in the dark days of the pre-vaccine pandemic, we rallied behind our favorite restaurants by ordering delivery. Once the mask mandates were lifted, and restaurants started re-opening, though, we were eager to get back to in-person dining, but this wasn’t always possible. Whether it’s due to staffing shortages, higher profits, or the perception that customer preferences have shifted to dine-out rather than dine-in, some restaurants have chosen to convert to a different model.
CNN reports that many fast food chains are retooling to focus on drive-through and/or delivery, shrinking or even eliminating the dining areas. Fair enough, since these places were never about the ambiance (although it does pose a problem for those of us with drive-thru anxiety). What really hurts, however, is when standalone restaurants that once offered dine-in are converted to a ghost kitchen model, something that Forbes notes is fairly simple to set up.
The New Yorker points out that restaurants going ghost predates the pandemic to some extent. It names San Francisco’s Frjtz as a restaurant that once had a brick-and-mortar storefront but switched over to delivery-only in 2019. (Successfully, it seems, as it’s added ghost locations in Oakland and San Mateo since that time.) Okay, we get it, the restaurant business is tough, and owners need to maximize profits however they can. If the industry’s future is destined to turn into a ghost story, however, that’s scary stuff … consider us spooked.