How to Start a Virtual Restaurant: Complete Guide to Success

how to start a virtual restaurant

In 2019, the world was hit with a pandemic that influenced and still influences all parts of our lives, including our dining out habits. It also created the perfect conditions for a new type of food business: the virtual restaurant.

how to start a virtual restaurant

In this article, you will learn more about the benefits of starting a ghost kitchen business, and you will find a detailed guide on how to start a virtual restaurant step by step.

What is a virtual restaurant

A virtual restaurant, also known as a ghost kitchen or cloud kitchen, is a restaurant that only offers delivery options, no classic dine-in. Therefore, there is no need to rent or buy a space that will be used to receive clients with table service. You only need a kitchen.

It still has to be a professional, clean and attested kitchen, but it could be anywhere, such as a nondescript building, a food truck, or even a location shared with another restaurant.

You could still offer takeaway, but virtual restaurants don’t usually have signage indicating where their kitchen location is.

What are the benefits of virtual kitchens using GloriaFood?

As there is a high demand for food delivery, you already have the advantage of entering a growing market where you can easily stand out from the competition with the right marketing. Before you learn how to start a virtual restaurant, check out the benefits you will enjoy once you do:

Low initial investment

You can forget about the rent, servers' salary, and other costs related to location. You will only spend money on the kitchen location and utilities, kitchen employees, ingredients, and a marketing budget to create hype around your restaurant.

Free to experiment

Because you don’t have to worry about the cost of running a physical restaurant, you can experiment with the menu items, trying new ingredients and combinations to drive up sales.

Serve more people

A physical restaurant could serve only a set amount of people in a day, considering the number of tables and the time needed to serve them. On the other hand, a virtual restaurant can serve as many people as you can get to order.

Reduced risk

Compared to a physical restaurant, a virtual restaurant requires less capital to open and maintain. Therefore, if something goes wrong, you won’t lose so much money. Because of easy access to technology, you can monitor everything, so you have a higher chance of success.

Efficient online delivery

If you choose the best online ordering system for your business, you will have a streamlined delivery process with no human errors on the way.

Easy-to-manage menu

If you run out of some ingredients or want to change some menu items, you can do so instantly with an online menu. No need to print new paper ones.

Flexible delivery zones

You can easily change delivery zones to get more sales. For example, using delivery heatmaps, you can see exactly where your high-paying orders come from, and where it’s worth increasing your marketing efforts. Find out more about this useful feature in this video:

How to start a virtual restaurant in seven easy steps

Opening a virtual restaurant is both similar and dissimilar to starting a physical one. You will still have to go through the process of branding and promoting your business online, but you don't have to worry about all the struggles associated with a physical location.

How to start a virtual restaurant? We are here to help you with an extensive but easy-to-follow guide:

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Define your virtual restaurant brand

Before even trying to find a location or figuring out how you will sell your food, the first step is to define why you want to open a virtual restaurant. Start by answering these questions:

  • Why do you want to open a virtual restaurant?
  • What type of food will you be serving?
  • What is special about your place? Do you use interesting ingredients? Do you have an innovative way of cooking?
  • What is your story? What motivates you to serve that specific type of food?
  • What will your price range be?
  • Will it be a fast food, home-cooked, or fine-cuisine type of virtual restaurant?

By coming up with answers to all of these, you will begin to find the answer to the important question, how to start a virtual restaurant. You will slowly start building your concept and identifying a Unique Selling Proposition that differentiates your restaurant from the competition.

Afterward, you must identify your audience. Start by researching your direct competition and analyzing the types of customers they are serving. These questions can also help you define your audience:

  • Who are you targeting with your food?
  • Are you offering portions and prices typical for families, or are you looking to attract the lunch hour crowd?
  • What age group will be more interested in ordering your food?

Furthermore, you need to brand your restaurant so you can come up with a tone of voice and some design elements that you will use on every platform to create a unitary image that clients will grow to instantly recognize.

This can be easily done by thinking of your virtual restaurant as a person. What type of person do you see your restaurant as? Fun, bubbly, always up for a chat? Or maybe professional, polite, and more reserved?

Hire a professional to create a brand book with your preferred colors, fonts, and an attractive logo. Branding works only if you are consistent, so ensure you don't stray from your chosen tone of voice or branded design elements.

Read more: 12 Restaurant Branding Ideas to Build a Memorable Presence

Step 2: Set up an efficient online ordering system

Installing an online ordering system is not an option, it's a need when you have a virtual restaurant. How else will you efficiently sell your food online, attract more clients and make a considerable profit?

There is no need to spend all your budget on setting up online orders, you can get a free online ordering system from GloriaFood that will turn your website into a money-making machine in no time! Here are the simple steps you must follow:

  • Create an account and fill in the necessary information;
  • Add the online ordering widget to your website. If you opt to get the website from us, it will already be integrated;
  • Download the free order-taking app for Android and iOS and start receiving orders!
Grow your virtual restaurant with seamless ordering Install an online ordering system for free Start now

How to start a virtual restaurant? Begin by checking out this video to learn more about how easy it is to set up an online ordering system:

Step 3: Create a delicious virtual restaurant menu

An attractive virtual restaurant menu is a key step in the “how to start a virtual restaurant” journey. A well optimized menu converts visitors just browsing your website into repeat customers. Here are some tips & tricks to help you create a menu that sells:

  • Add mouth-watering pictures: as opposed to a paper menu, which is usually just words, with an online menu, you have the option to add beautiful pictures that will make visitors instantly hungry. Consider hiring a professional photographer, learning about restaurant food photography, or just selecting great images from the free GloriaFood gallery;
    how to start a virtual restaurant from home
  • Add long descriptions: you need to convince people that your food is worth ordering. Avoid short, non-descriptive captions and go for long ones that tell a story. For example, focus on the ingredients (Pizza Margherita: thin sourdough crust, fresh, ripe tomatoes, italian mozzarella di bufala and basil from our own garden) or go for a funny approach (Cheeky cheeseburger: melt in your mouth pork cheeks enveloped in melty cheddar and enclosed in the freshest buns you've ever seen);
  • Offer toppings: allow clients to customize their dishes with countless toppings. The amount of choices will please them, and you get to make more profit as toppings have a higherprofit margin;
  • Add the most expensive items first: people tend to order the first items they see, either because they are in a hurry or because they trust you put your best items first;

Creating a menu using the online ordering system from GloriaFood is simple and intuitive, especially because you have how-to videos included to help you along the way. Check out this video to learn more about setting up your virtual menu:

But wait, there is more! You also have access to advanced settings, such as setting up a different menu every day, adding an out-of-stock sign, or marking items for different allergies (gluten, dairy, nuts, etc.) so you can appease different crowds. Find out more from this video:

Read more: How to Build a Restaurant Menu That Will Skyrocket Your Online Sales

Step 4: Get an optimized virtual restaurant website

As a virtual restaurant, you don't have a storefront and a location where people can just wander in while walking in the neighborhood. Therefore, you need to create an online storefront that will attract people to order from you.

Precisely, you need a highly optimized website because all your sales will be online. How will people find you and learn about the delicious food you cook if you don’t have a great website to advertise your business?

Start a virtual restaurant in just a few minutes Get a sales and SEO-optimized website Start now

How to start a virtual restaurant? We have some good news for you: getting a website is the simplest part of starting a virtual restaurant if you become a GloriaFood member. All you have to do is sign up for a free account, fill in your basic information, create a menu, and in a matter of seconds, we will generate a custom website that will be your online business card.

For people to find you online, you need to rank high in searches such as “Indian food delivery near me” or “pizza to go in Boston”. Therefore, SEO optimization is a must.

The website provided by GloriaFood will be delivered to you already SEO-optimized, full of relevant keywords naturally inserted in texts that encourage conversions and mouth-watering pictures that will make everyone click on the Menu button.

how to open a virtual restaurant

To get your own sales-optimized website that will enable you to start receiving orders in no time, sign up on GloriaFood and go to admin -> Setup -> Publishing -> Sales Optimized Website.

how to start a virtual restaurant

Check out this instructional video for detailed instructions on how to create a sales and SEO-optimized website for your virtual restaurant:

Step 5: Start accepting orders on your website, social media, and branded app

If you are searching for how to start a virtual restaurant, a big part of the answer is giving potential customers a convenient way of ordering your food products.

When you use the efficient online ordering system from GloriaFood, customers have three options to place an order, so they can choose the most comfortable option for them:

  • Directly on your website: here is a demo website where you can play around and see how easy it is for them to place an order.
  • On Facebook: you can personalize your “Start Order” button on your Facebook profile with a custom link that reaches your online menu. To do so, go to admin -> Setup -> Publishing -> Facebook.
    how to set up a virtual restaurant
  • With your own branded restaurant app: go one step further to promote your virtual restaurant and allow clients to order from an app customized with your logo, slogan, and image. To get it, go to admin -> Setup -> Publishing -> Branded mobile app.
    how to open virtual restaurant

Step 6: Increase profitability with premium features that will help you sell more

But the online ordering system from GloriaFood isn't just a simple platform that creates a seamless ordering experience for you and your clients. It is so much more.

If you use it to its full capacity, it will not only the best solution to how to start a virtual restaurant, but also to how to own a successful restaurant that passes the test of time. As soon as you sign up, you get access to countless useful features that will help you steadily grow your virtual restaurant.

Attract more returning customers using the Autopilot module

Attracting new customers can help grow your virtual restaurant, but getting repeat clients will ensure you make a steady profit. Email campaigns can help encourage clients to reorder from your business.

Try the Autopilot feature from GloriaFood and enjoy the benefits of setting up your email campaigns once and then having them run on autopilot. Go to admin -> Autopilot Selling -> Autopilot to test our this feature.

what is a virtual restaurant

Check out this detailed video that will show you how easy it is to set-up email marketing and start taking advantage of this useful feature:

Increase your average order value with the Promotions module

The top of your menu should always be full of great promotions encouraging people to order more. A classic free delivery for orders over a certain amount or a free item with your order will entice people to instantly click the Order button.

With the online ordering system from GloriaFood, implementing promotions is simple and efficient. Go to admin -> Marketing -> Promotions and start selling with tried and tested promotion templates.

starting a virtual restaurant

Once you set up and enable a promotion, it will automatically show up at the top of your online menu. The first thing any client will see when they open your menu is the great deals you offer, and they will be persuaded to take advantage of them.

how to start a ghost kitchen

Check out this video to learn how to set up a restaurant promotion in just a few seconds:

Read more:10 Restaurant Website Promotion Ideas for Delivery & Takeout

Monitor your progress with the Reports module

You can monitor your sales to identify possible problems or places you could adjust with the Reports module.

By going to admin -> Reports you can see how many sales you had, what platform they came from, how many visits your website has, and other relevant information that will help your virtual restaurant succeed.

how to start a virtual restaurant

Read more:How to grow your food business with Restaurant Data Analytics

Step 7: Promote your virtual restaurant

After you have set up your optimized website, efficient online ordering system, and attractive menu, all left to do on the “how to start a virtual restaurant” journey is start promoting your virtual restaurant!

Here are some common ways to create hype around your business:

  • Create social media accounts: make an account on the platforms your audience uses, be it Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, and start creating a social media plan. Try to post once a day and focus on pictures and videos of your delicious food. Moreover, include Calls to Action in your posts such as “What menu item is your favorite?” or “What ingredient would you like to see us cook with?” to encourage engagement;
  • Claim your Google My Business account: to better your visibility and chances of ranking high on Google, you need to have a complete Google Business Profile. Add your working hours, link to your website, location, and include many photos of your food;
  • Get on every review platform in your area: people enjoy the comfort of reading reviews before they order from a new place.. Therefore, get on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and the like and invite people to review your food on your website and socials. It is also important to reply to every single review, be it positive or negative, to show customers you care about their opinions;


The question “how to start a virtual restaurant” can lead to a very profitable business, especially if you don't have a large sum for the initial investment or don’t want to risk it. As there is a great demand for online food delivery, your chances for success are high if you get a sales-optimized website and an efficient online ordering system.

Don't forget to put in the effort to promote your virtual restaurant so people learn your name and you can continue to grow steadily.

Otilia Dobos

Otilia Dobos is sometimes a content writer, other times a copywriter, but always produces high-quality content that helps clients up their marketing game. She devotes her attention to helping restaurant owners have a successful business with well-documented and SEO-optimized articles.

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