Ghost Kitchens: Virtual kitchens popping up for food-ordering apps

The rise of food delivery apps is helping to bring new cuisines and restaurant concepts to Los Angeles even if there’s no actual restaurant to visit.

Dante’s Fried Chicken is among a new generation of restaurants without an actual restaurant space.   

They are referred to as ghost or virtual kitchens.

Chef and L.A. native Dante Gonzales of DFC Ghost Kitchen was inspired by his grandmother's home cooking for his unique take on traditional fried chicken recipes.

Chef Gonzales fried up his Sock It To Me Fried Chicken and placed it on his Coconut Honey flaky biscuits. 

Underneath the chicken, a little strawberry jam, over the chicken, gravy, a fried egg and a splash of his 'Crack' Sauce. 

“It’s an apricot, habanero, fresno ginger sauce. My grandmother used to make it for special occasions,” Gonzales said.       

He slides the plate over and hands me a fork and knife. “It’s like Christmas in your mouth,” he declared. I just called it Ah-mazing!

But as good as that chicken sandwich tastes, it's not available at ANY restaurant.

You can order Dante's Fried Chicken from food delivery apps like Postmates and Caviar.    

Chef Dante cooks alongside the chefs at Cassell’s Hamburgers in Downtown L.A.

His delicious food is tailor-made for home or office delivery.

He says, "When we deliver this everything is compartmentalized. Everything comes in separate little containers, and we have little instructions on how to put it together."

He dreams of a brick and mortar restaurant someday, but the start-up costs are daunting, to say the least.  “Average cost could be anywhere from half a million to a million.”   

With the rising popularity of food delivery apps, it means getting into the restaurant game is a lot simpler.  

It’s no longer about finding the right space or location, there’s no build-out cost, less hiring, and the bottom line is it's much cheaper.

Across town, 26 ghost restaurants cook food for pick up and delivery at Colony in West LA.

The Colony is a smart kitchen that these establishments use to satisfy and expand their delivery areas.

In March, the newest ghost kitchen will launch. 

We also spoke with Badr Fayez and Adlah Al Sharan who are celebrity chefs in the Middle East.

For their first restaurant in the U.S., they decided against a brick and mortar restaurant and didn’t want a food truck. 

Ultimately, they wanted to introduce their chickpea-based bowls in a way that will also allow for easy expansion. 

”We can easily take all the products that we make here and not have another set of chefs, another investment in a kitchen and we can grow that way,” said Fayez.

They’re two weeks away from launching their first restaurant called Bowlila  

The two have big plans for Bowlila to expand to multiple locations which is easier to do when operating without a brick and mortar restaurant.

Chef Fayez says, "We can easily take all the products that we make here and not have another set of chefs which is another investment in a kitchen and we can grow that way."

Chef Dante also likes how nimble he can be with his food. If he wants to change his menu or try something new, he can do that easily.

Call it research and development for the day when Dante’s Fried Chicken goes from ghost kitchen to a restaurant anyone can visit.