Pop-Up Restaurants

All About Pop Up Restaurants

Pop up restaurants are a good way to attract investors. Aline Ponce via Pixabay

According to the National Restaurant Associations What’s Hot survey, one of the biggest growing trends in 2011 is pop up restaurants. While popular now, pop-up restaurants are not a new concept. They originated as super clubs in the 1960s and 1970s. Today’s pop up restaurants has many different looks and functions. They can appear in an unlikely place, such as an old warehouse or building rooftop.

The allure of the pop up restaurant is the minimal investment of both time and money.

Who Opens a Pop Up Restaurant?

Many chefs open a pop up restaurant is a way to showcase their talents to a wider audience, perhaps drawing in investors for a restaurant in the future. Other pop-ups are a test run by would-be restaurateurs who are thinking of opening their own restaurant. Pop ups are also used by community groups as fundraisers. Some pop up proprietors seek to offer high quality food at more affordable prices, allowing more people access to gourmet dining.

Who Goes to a Pop Up Restaurant?

Due to the limited menu choices of most pop-up restaurants, foodies are the typical audience. These are people who enjoy trying new, sometimes unusual, foods. Many pop-ups advertise by word of mouth or by invite only, keeping it to those who appreciate specialty dining.

Where Can a Pop Up Restaurant Open?

The beauty of pop up restaurant is that it can go almost anywhere.

As long as the space is safe to cook and serve food, it can be a pop up restaurant. Pop-ups have been hosted in empty warehouses, roof top gardens or in an old barn, just to name a few places. Another option for a pop up restaurant location is an already existing restaurant. For example, renting a diner that serves only breakfast and lunch.

The owners of the diner receive a percent of the profits to cover water, sewer, electricity gas and any other associated expenses. The benefit of hosting pop up restaurant in your own restaurant is the novelty that brings in extra customers.

How Much Does a Pop Up Restaurant Cost?

While far cheaper than a traditional brick and mortar restaurant, a pop-up restaurant will still cost several thousand dollars to open. The final cost will depend on the size of the pop up and the amount of the equipment needed.

What’s on a Pop Restaurant Menu?

People go to a pop up restaurant to experience a unique, creative eating experience. Therefore, your pop up restaurant menu should be original- something you can’t find at any local eateries. Due to the limited nature of most pop up kitchens, a prix fixe menu or limited menu, is ideal. Some pop up restaurants offer a five, six or seven course meal- no choices allowed.

What are Some Problems with Pop Ups?

A pop up restaurant is a lot like catering a large event, except that it goes on for days, weeks or even months. You need to plan the logistics carefully. For example, how are you going to keep food warm and/or cold before and during the dinner rush? Other logistics to consider is transportation of supplies and equipment and knowing how much food to buy for each night.

Alcohol presents another problem, depending on which state you are doing business. Some places it is easy to apply for a temporary liquor license, while others it is nearly impossible. Check with your local state office to find out if your pop-up restaurant is eligible for a liquor license. If it isn’t, or if you’d rather not deal with the hassle of serving alcohol, you can allow guests to bring their own alcohol with them- again checking with local authorities that it is allowed.