The pop-up restaurant is one of the newest trends sweeping through the culinary industry. If you’re considering getting on board the craze and opening a pop-up restaurant, we’ll walk you through what you need!
Before you start your pop-up restaurant journey, you need an idea of what you want to do and why! Consider your motivation for opening a pop-up in the first place. Is it to expand your existing restaurant into new markets, test the waters for your restaurant idea, or just because it seems fun?
Pro Tip: People who go to a pop-up restaurant are typically looking for exciting new foods, so get creative with the menu and offerings.
Once you have your core idea and motivation, the rest of the decisions will more easily fall into place and influence everything else, from the menu to the location. Many professional chefs open pop-up restaurants almost as food experiment surveys to test out menu ideas and get immediate feedback from customers.
Next, where will you put the pop-up, and what will it look like? For many pop-ups, the location is the difference between success and failure, as you want somewhere that’s convenient and draws people but is still functional and exciting.
One of the reasons why storage containers are popular pop-up restaurant alternatives is that they can be placed practically anywhere and are like blank canvases for exciting and experimental designs. If you’re finding yourself limited in location by what’s available, consider making your own space with a shipping container.
Even if it is just a temporary pop-up, you’ll still need all the necessary permits and paperwork to open a restaurant. Some go the underground route and try to skirt restaurant regulations with authorities, but that’s a dangerous game and can get you into severe legal and financial trouble.
It’s wise to simply fill out the necessary paperwork and application to open a temporary restaurant. It may seem tedious, but it’s much better than facing a fine or punishment for evading local regulations.
A Marketing Plan
Once you’ve got the basics of your pop-up figured out, get the word out! Many pop-ups thrive or die on word-of-mouth and guerilla marketing that relies on free advertising like social media, so you’ll want to start getting the word out fast.
Creating a few social media accounts for the pop-up and a simple website is an excellent place to start, but you also don’t want to give too much away. The mystery of a new pop-up restaurant draws many people. Offering promotions and giveaways for people who post pictures of your pop-up on social media is an excellent opportunity to recruit customers to do your advertising for you!