How To Open A Pop-Up Restaurant 101
The pop-up restaurant was once a temporary set-up for chefs in between restaurant jobs. However, it has become a mainstay in urban epicenters globally. Want to know how to open a pop-up restaurant yourself? That’s where we come in. For over three years, Feastly has been helping cooks to design pop-up concepts, build brands, and host thousands of adventurous diners in cities across the country. Using this guide as a starting point, you too can open a successful pop-up restaurant!
STEP 1: CHOOSE YOUR PURPOSE
Before opening up your pop-up, decide why you’re doing it!
🍴To test a culinary concept
A pop-up restaurant provides a fairly low-risk playground for testing out ideas. There is little up-front investment (except for time!), and diners will let you know what they loved…and what didn’t cut the mustard.
🍕 To build your culinary brand
If you’ve already nailed down a concept and want to get the word out, a pop-up restaurant is a great place to start. It allows you to build a following of loyal diners who will in turn become ambassadors of your brand.
🍹 As a creative outlet
Whether you’re a chef at a Michelin-grade restaurant or an adept home baker, hosting pop-up events allows you to cook the food you’re passionate about and share it with like-minded food-lovers.
💰 As extra income
If you’re savvy about planning and pricing your menu, a pop-up restaurant can become a solid side hustle!
🌍 To support a cause or as a fundraiser
Pop-up restaurants can bring people together around a shared cause. Use events to raise awareness about an initiative or raise money for a charity.
Step 2: Build Your Concept
The most successful pop-up restaurants have food that tells a story. This should be something easy to describe and simple for diners to understand – if you can’t succinctly explain the concept of your pop-up restaurant, chances are your audience won’t be able to either.
Here are some examples from Feastly chefs who maintain unique, cohesive concepts for their pop-up restaurants:
Through food that encompasses many parts of the Middle East, Istanbul Modern tells the story of the lost city of Constantinople, a once thriving and culturally diverse metropolis.
Hundred Miles celebrates uniquely Southern Californian cuisine with products exclusively sourced from Los Angeles-area purveyors and menus rife with foraged, fermented ingredients.
Penn Sardin reinterprets the cuisine of Brittany, France through the lens of the Pacific Northwest, a region with similar climate and commitment to small-batch producers.
STEP 3: FIND A VENUE
Most cooks don’t have the capacity to host 20+ diners in their homes, especially in cities where space is at a premium. Finding a venue for your pop-up restaurant allows you to invite more people and often saves you the hassle of renting service items like chairs or flatware. A unique space also adds to the ambiance of your pop-up restaurant.
Feastly offers a multitude dedicated event spaces in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Portland.
Check out these resources for locating event venues in your area:Feastly Peerspace Splacer Breather EventUp
STEP 4: MARKET YOUR POPUP
Even if you have a watertight concept your pop-up restaurant and beautiful space in which to host, you need a flow of diners in order to flourish! This is where it helps to be a diligent self-marketer.
Looking for more tips on how to open a pop-up restaurant? Check out the helpful resources below.
- Food Photography Tips from the Pros: Two professional photographers weigh in on how amateur shutterbugs can document their culinary creations.
- Social Media Marketing: Here are some quick tips for using Facebook and Instagram to market your pop-up restaurant.
- Marketing With Facebook Events: Learn how to make effective Events and use them to drive traffic to your pop-ups.