EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Delivery and takeout grew exponentially last year. According to the National Restaurant Association, 71% of restaurant owners say off-premise sales represent a higher proportion of their total business than they did before the pandemic.

One Playa Vista resident scrolls through the plethora of options on one of the many delivery apps. She has always ordered food but does it even more during the pandemic.

“I order about three times a week,” Emily said.

Emily noticed many new restaurants over the last year, which she said is exciting.

“I definitely try to order stuff that’s close in proximity to where we are because you will get it, and it will be hot out of the box. It will be ready to eat and ready to go, so you don’t have to worry about microwaving or anything like that,” Emily said.

The increase in demand is exactly why the founder of popular restaurant Holy Cow BBQ, Rob Serritella, decided to expand his brand by opening Creative Cloud Concepts this year, a ghost kitchen that houses multiple businesses to complete orders for pickup and delivery. He started thinking about this even before the pandemic changed the dining landscape. It is more vital than ever to adapt to the takeout and delivery model because it is what the customers want, he said.

“Eating habits changed. Everyone wants everything to be portable, so a virtual kitchen and cloud kitchen lets you do that. We have seen a shift in our industry, and I don’t think we will be going back at this point,” Serritella said.

The Creative Cloud Concepts hold three of Serritella’s businesses, including Holy Cow, Rooster’s fried chicken, and his new vegan option Ciao Verde. But other ghost kitchens act as landlords for completely different restaurants, from staples such as Canter’s to new ventures. It is a way for any chef to test their food without putting the time and money into a brick and mortar. They can lease space from one of these kitchens.


“The cost of entry into a cloud kitchen is much lower, revenue is much quicker, and labor footprint is smaller. It’s like having a big house and renting out all the rooms,” Serritella said.

According to Technomic, restaurant sales from virtual venues are expected to increase 25% a year through the next five years. Serritella agrees, saying even celebrities have recently hopped on the trend. Guy Fieri, Tyga, and more have launched their own virtual restaurant brands.

“I think we are going to see some unique new food trends. I think we will see freshness be the forefront of what we are doing. Our industry is blossoming, and I think cloud kitchens are part of it,” Serritella said.

According to the National Restaurant Association, 65% of adults surveyed ordered takeout or delivery for dinner weekly within four months of the pandemic.

Emily said the ghost kitchen expansion doesn’t impact her decisions but only leads her to trying new cuisines.

“I haven’t noticed if it is a cloud or not. I might not know where Benny’s Tacos is, and I don’t know if I would go there in person, but I ordered from them a bunch since the pandemic,” she said.

There are many ghost kitchens operating in Los Angeles and many virtual concepts selling out of other restaurants or even home kitchens. All selling through third-party apps.