Everything you need to know about starting a Pop-up Restaurant

October 6, 2019


Pop-up restaurants are a growing trend in foodservice. However, Pop-up restaurants are not a new phenomenon. They have been popular since the 2000s in Britain and Australia. They are taking the food industry to a new level. Pop-up restaurants offer something for everyone. They allow chefs to try new and creative ideas and utilize underused kitchen facilities and experiment without the risk of failure. They help Owners and managers test and learn to make improvements. They captivate customers through short-term experience and a range of fun food concepts. Read on to know everything you need to know about starting a pop-up restaurant.


What is a Pop-up Restaurant?

The pop-up restaurant, also known as supper clubs, is defined as a temporarily operated restaurant. It is a provisional event that occurred to shed light on your culinary talents at a temporary location. It holds a place in unordinary places and serves trendy food to guests. As long as space is safe to cook and serve food, it can be a pop-up restaurant.

These restaurants may operate from a private home, former factory, empty warehouses, rooftop gardens, an old barn, an existing restaurant, and during festivals. It could last for several hours, one night, week, or for a few months.

Starting a pop-up restaurant is far cheaper than establishing a traditional brick and mortar restaurant. Its cost depends on its size and the amount of equipment needed.


The steps to start a pop-up restaurant:

1) Identify the purpose and the concept of it:

On one hand, young professionals can introduce their skills in the field of hospitality, introduce their talents to investors and guests, and attract potential investors to see their concept in action. On the other hand, it is an effective way for experienced restaurateurs to test out risky new concepts without the financial obligations that are essential to open up a permanent restaurant. Moreover, a pop-up restaurant may occur to open a kitchen to supply food for benefits or charity events.


2) Choose a location:

You can host a pop-up in another existing restaurant kitchen during off-hours. Establish connections with local restaurants or only family-run restaurants that are only serving breakfast and lunch. At night, you can use unused kitchen and dining areas to present your original menu concept.

Alternatively, you can create a shop on the rooftop, in a recycled shipping container, a residential complex, city-level parks, in old unused buildings, or in any unconventional space

You should have an open space that passes health inspections, allows you to comply with restaurant safety practices, is equipped for cooking, and should be safe for cooking and serving food.


3) Obtain a temporary business license, insurance, and permit:

Pop-up restaurants may usually ignore licenses or insurance, but this is not good practice. You should be legal and eliminate any potential legal issues if problems arise. Check with your local laws about the types of temporary permits you will need before opening. Always make sure you are free and clear.


4) Offer limited menu choices and write and price a pop-up menu:

A pop-up restaurant may be the best place to try new ideas, however, make sure to experiment only one or two, at least at first. Try to offer a fixed menu or one menu with only two or three meals. Remember that you may be working with a few employees to help you. Not to mention that you have a limited amount of space for storage and cooking.

People, generally, go to a pop-up restaurant for a food adventure to try something new, unusual, creative, and different from the ordinary restaurant experience. Most pop-up restaurants offer a prix fixe menu in order to charge a specific cost per person and limit the amount of food and supplies needed to be stored. According to how long the pop-up restaurant opens, you can change the menu every night or every few nights. Change your Prix fix list every few nights and retain customers again for new and different offers to add diversity to your pop-up.


5) Use social media platforms to market your pop-up:

Social media platforms are ideal in helping restaurateurs to market and promote their events, gather a crowd online a few weeks before starting, and keeping everybody attracted with regular updates with photos. They also help diners to keep up with the movement of these restaurants and make online reservations. In addition, they allow you to keep your marketing costs as low as possible. Twitter helps you to tweet your pop-up location for the day, whereas Instagram can help you attract hungry crowds by posting plenty of pictures.

​You may also consider creating a free website for your pop-up at sites like Yola or Wix. Usually, these websites consist of a single page with an address, menu, and price.