Have you heard about the buzz on pop-up restaurants? Lately, pop-up restaurants are literally popping up everywhere from building rooftops to the chef’s home. Mobile cuisine has been trending with restaurant owners, professional chefs, and food enthusiasts by launching their own pop-up restaurants.
If you are thinking of launching your own pop-up restaurant, let’s take a closer look at what it is, how to start one up, and the benefits of operating your own pop-up restaurant.
Pop-up restaurants are short-term restaurant ventures designed for chefs who want to showcase new menus and different cuisine with new customers. Usually, the motivation behind pop-up restaurants is for the chef or owner to attract new investors for opening a traditional restaurant.
So, do you think you have what it takes to open your own pop-up restaurant? Before you get cooking, let’s walk you through the steps that you should take prior to opening your pop-up.
- Understand the restaurant’s purpose. Ask yourself: why do you want to open your own pop-up restaurant? What is its purpose? By answering these initial questions, you can understand the motivating factors in your enterprise.
- Choose the right location. One of the cool things about opening a pop-up restaurant is picking the right location. You can choose an existing restaurant space during their closed time slots, food tents, warehouses, patios, and even your own backyard. However, before you choose your ideal location, answer these logistical questions: What is your seating capacity? How much equipment will you need? What are your hours of operation? What is the duration for renting the space?
- Obtain the proper permits, license, and insurance. Before you launch a pop-up restaurant, you need to obtain the proper permits, licenses, and insurance to ensure your business is legal. This is very important if you plan to serve alcohol, as you need a liquor license.
- Get equipment for a mobile kitchen. What’s a pop-up restaurant without a kitchen? Here is a list of the proper portable equipment for a mobile kitchen:
portable oven, grill or stove top, mini-freezer for storing food, steam table to warm up ingredients, cleaning stations like a portable sink for washing hands and dishes, and cutting tables to prepare dishes.
- Set up the dining room. What is the theme of your pop-up restaurant? Think of the ambience you want your customers to experience, and set up the dining room that complements the menu.
- Decide on the prices and menu. Since pop-up restaurants have limited storage space, consider offering a prix fixe menu to decrease your food waste. With a fixed-rate price, this allows customers to relax because they know beforehand how much they have to pay and then can thus try everything on your menu.
- Set up a promotional strategy. The best way to promote your pop-up restaurant is on Instagram and Facebook. Take photos of a series of mock-trial dishes you plan to serve and utilize the marketing tactic by presenting a sense of urgency with taglines such as “Limited time only” and “One week only.” Be sure to place a call of action on each post, such as a “Book in advance” link that sends the user to a restaurant reservation system.
It might be tempting to choose a creative location such as an airplane hangar, but keep in mind that you need to set up your restaurant in a location where all your equipment will be free of damage and it is realistic to cook and serve food.
Moreover, you need running water for washing hands, proper food handling, and washing dishes. Installing portable sinks in your pop-up restaurant is a great option for maintaining a hygienic operation. Portable sinks are compact, easy to clean, and are mobile, so you can bring them anywhere you go.
Here are the several benefits of opening a pop-up restaurant:
- Build a reputation. Offering something new quickly builds your reputation in the restaurant business. If your goal is to open a full-fledged restaurant in the future, then building your reputation is a must.
- Cheaper startup costs. On the financial side, launching a pop-up restaurant won’t burn a hole in your pocket, as you pay for less overhead and labour.
- Flexibility in location. With pop-up restaurants, you get the freedom to move from city to city to test different customers.
- Experiment with new menus and prices. Enjoy the option of setting your own price points such as flat ticket prices or prix fixe menus.
- Small financial loss if the idea fails. The best thing about pop-up restaurants is if your idea doesn’t fly, you experience small financial losses with no bankruptcy.
Pop-up restaurants lets you test out different audiences with your restaurant ideas without risking a huge financial loss. Regardless of your restaurant’s cuisine, we hope that by following this guideline it will drive you into action to create a business plan that will help you achieve your dream of opening your own pop-up restaurant.