Learn About the Basics of Pop-Up Restaurants

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Originally started as supper clubs back in the 1960s, pop-up restaurants have seen a resurgence in the past few years. Just as their name implies, pop-ups often occur in unexpected places, for a limited time. Pop-up restaurants serve many different purposes, from charity events to showcase the talents of up and coming chefs and would-be restaurateurs. Read on for ten things you should know about pop-up restaurants.

Pop-Up Restaurants Don’t Have a Time Limit.

Pop-up restaurants are temporary in nature. They can last for an evening, a week, or even a month. It all depends on how long the space is available and the purpose of the pop-up. For example, a pop-up for a fundraiser may last for only a weekend. A pop-up as a trial run for a traditional brick and mortar restaurant could last several weeks. 

Pop-Up Restaurants Are Great for Fundraisers

Think of the traditional bean supper at local grange halls or spaghetti dinners to benefit a local sports team or other charitable cause. These are essentially pop-up restaurants in their most basic form. A pop-up restaurant takes this basic concept and steps it up a more traditional restaurant atmosphere.

Pop-Ups Pop Up in Unusual Locations

One of the coolest aspects of a pop-up restaurant is that it may be located in an unusual location, like an apartment building rooftop, an old barn, or even an empty airplane hangar.

Wherever there is room for tables and chairs and a make shift kitchen, you could host a pop-up restaurant. Just be sure that you have permission to use the space and it is safe for staff and customers (more about that in a second).

Pop-Ups Can Be in Existing Restaurants

While maybe not as cool as an airplane hangar or a city rooftop, an existing restaurant makes planning a pop-up a whole lot easier.

If a restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch, it could double as a pop-up restaurant in the evening.

Pop-Ups Should Be Legit

Truly underground pop-up restaurants don’t usually bother with licenses or insurance. However, you need both to be legal and avoid any potential legal trouble if problems should arise. Check with your local town or state authorities about what types of temporary permits you’ll need before you open.

Social Media and Pop-Ups Are Perfect Together

Like food trucks, many pop-up restaurants use social media as their primary means of advertising. Nightly specials are posted on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Invites to your pop up may be issued exclusively through social media sites.

Don’t Overlook Safety for Your Pop-Up

First and foremost, you pop-up location should be safe for patrons and safe to serve food. If electricity and running water aren’t readily available, you need to make sure you have access to both for extended periods of time. Food needs to be kept in the safe temperature zones for hot and cold, to avoid any possible food poisoning.

Pop-Ups Can Entice Investors

Some professional chefs open their own pop-ups to build their culinary reputation since the short-term nature of a pop-up allows chefs total freedom and creativity in the kitchen.

Others open a pop-up restaurant to test out a restaurant concept, using it as an avenue to entice investors as well as the public to try it out.

Pop-Ups Have Prix Fixe Menus

Most people who go to a pop-up restaurant are looking for a food adventure - something new, unique, and creative. Something that is different from the local restaurant scene. Add to this a limited amount of space for storage and cooking and most pop-up restaurants feature a prix fixe menu of some sort. Instead of a la carte menu, providing a prix fixe menu allows you to charge a set amount per person. Depending on the length your pop-up restaurant is open, you may change the menu every night or every few nights.

Pop-Ups Are Fun!

Pop-ups are low commitment. You don’t have to mortgage your house or even quit your day job. They offer a chance to do something different and see if the restaurant business something you want to pursue in the future.