You could soon see ‘ghost kitchens’ pop up in Orlando

Local restaurants to carry out food delivery only concept

ORLANDO, Fla. – Local restaurants are hoping to carry out a food delivery only concept, called a “Ghost Kitchen” or virtual kitchen in Central Florida.

According to a study done by Frost and Sullivan, the online food delivery industry could be a $200 billion business by 2025 and Zach Hartman, owner of Jimmy Hula’s, wants a bite of the new trend.

“These virtual kitchens are big in LA, Chicago and New York, so we are kind of lucky to be one of the first to it in Central Florida,” Hartman said.

Hartman recently signed the lease on a small building on South Street, where parking is shared with a brewery next door. However, for a “ghost kitchen” you don’t need parking or any dining space. Instead, Hartman plans to operate six restaurants in one tiny building for delivery only.

"It will be a non-seating establishment, I'd like to think of it as a virtual food hall," Hartman said. " I think Orlando is a hot market, I think there is a lot of young people coming into town."

Currently, the first and only “ghost kitchen” operating in Central Florida is Kitchen AF, owned by Jim Marshall. His kitchen is located in the Winter Park Commerce Park and has been serving out carry-out meals for years.

“We believe (this) was the first ghost kitchen in the United States,” Marshall said. “Then UberEats came along and they gave us a solution instead of being able to serve 20-30 meals, we are now able to do individual meals.”

That’s how Kitchen AF was born. That kitchen serves nine restaurants on online food delivery apps like UberEats and DoorDash.

"We have Burger AF, Pasta AF, Cheesy AF," Marshall said. "Salad AF, Wings and Ribs AF, Soup AF, Sweet AF and Lunch AF. All out of this single unit."

He believes a “ghost kitchen” is more of a virtual kitchen with no dining room, limited parking and not in a high-traffic retail location.

Just as the owner of Jimmy Hula’s looks to tap into the business, Marshall is looking at expanding. He hopes to cut down on overhead rent cost, and actually buy commercial space to operate more “ghost kitchens” throughout Central Florida.

“Eventually our goal is to have a full commissary kitchen here in Orlando and five to six satellite retail locations so that no matter where you are along I-4 you will be able to order,” Marshall said.

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