Running a pop-up restaurant is a fantastic way of cashing in on the pluses of running a traditional restaurant without the high costs that go hand in hand with it. Plenty of chefs will test a market with a pop-up over the course of their careers, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for keen foodies to find out if going into the restaurant trade really is for them without having to throw in the towel with their day job.
1. Firstly, you’ll need to decide what is the point of your pop-up restaurant
You need to identify what the purpose of running your pop-up restaurant is. Chefs often launch their own pop-up to start building up a reputation. A pop-up restaurant will give them much more freedom to do what they want in the kitchen and so means they can break free from the establishment where they are already working and grow their own identity. Pop-ups are also a great way to attract investors if you are trying to get some capital behind starting your own more permanent restaurant. Pop-up restaurants are also a fantastic way of testing the market in a particular area and you can get feedback from customers and tweak your business plan before you go out on a limb. Or you could hold a pop-up restaurant because you love cooking and want to share that passion with other people, while generating an income, without having to commit to the full time pressure of running a restaurant.
2. Find a space for your pop-up restaurant
You can hold your pop-up restaurant anywhere, as long as the location is safe for cooking and serving food. You will need to take into account the size, how you will set up a mobile kitchen and where you will put the tables and chairs. Remember to think about the amenities you will need such as toilets, electricity and running water and how you will provide these. Of course, if you are holding your pop-up restaurant in your own home, you will get round many of these issues. Alternatively you could approach an already existing restaurant and see if you can take over their space for a night. Some underground pop-up restaurants don’t bother with licenses or insurance, but it is important you stay on the right side of legality and you will also need to get the correct permits, all of which we cover in our book How to run a pop-up restaurant or supper club.
3. Choose your pop-up restaurant menu
Pop-ups are notorious for being destinations of adventurous foodie experiences, offering something original and unusual so bear this in mind when deciding what kind of menu you’re going to cook. Fixed menus are a good idea to make sure you don’t get out of your depth on the night and we cover plenty of fool proof recipes both in our book and on our website. You could have your customers order their food when they book. Keep in mind when choosing your ingredients the prices that customers in your area will be prepared to pay – you want to be making a profit, not a loss on your pop-up restaurant event.
4. Get you pop-up restaurant some publicity!
As well as using the local press, Facebook, Twitter, running a blog and posting on Instagram are great tools for bringing in customers, alongside the old-fashioned methods such as putting up posters and fliers. You need to decide what the “story” of you pop-up is and why it’s worth people coming to you rather than their regular eaterie.
Alongside these things you’ll need to consider how you will staff your event, how you will collect payment and then get on and enjoy your night. Bon appetite!
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