I’ve only ever seen one or two pop-up restaurants in my time, but every time I have, I’ve always thought they were fantastically entertaining and incredibly delicious. Why do they not happen more often? I always ask myself. Pop-up restaurants are great marketing tools for food companies, new chefs or even existing restaurants. Pop-up restaurants appear and disappear, often within the same week, which makes them insanely popular during that time. They’re also great editions to special occasions, such as Christmas Markets (and who doesn’t love the food at a Christmas Market!?).
Setting up a pop-up restaurant is no easy task. If handled without care and executed in an unplanned fashion, you’ll have an unmitigated disaster on your hands. The choice of an appropriate location, theme, menu, and most importantly, Chef, can make or break your pop-up restaurant. You’ll need to get it right, and if you do, you’ll possibly stand to gain a lot of exposure. Bearing this in mind, here are some tips and suggestions, which if followed, might make your attempt a successful one.
When planning on opening a pop-up restaurant, think carefully about the location of where you’re restaurant will temporarily appear. Think about the people who live near that area. Hip people (hipsters) love temporary things, and love them even more when their friends didn’t experience. This will likely create a rush that means your pop-up restaurant is fully booked during its temporary stay. Therefore popular and “cool” areas will be great for pop-up restaurants. Look at the town or city you live in, and you’ll realise that there is an area that is considered the trendy area. Try and get your restaurant as close to that area as you can.
Theme and Décor
Once you’ve found your suitably hip location, you’ll want to spruce up the interior with elegant lighting. Lighting is the most important element to how a room looks and feels, but adding portable furniture, inexpensive coolers, and electric heaters will also help. If you feel it is right for the restaurant, you could always go with a theme, like Mexican, or Pirates. This will make it easier to find pieces for the décor as themes allow you to be slightly less classy, but still well decorated.
Chef, Menu and Pricing
Pop-up restaurants are great for relatively inexperienced chefs to gain exposure, as well as being great for experienced chefs as publicity stunts. If you’re a company organising a pop-up restaurant (most of the time they will be driven by the chef), decide which kind of event you would like. If you want to appeal to a young, hip audience, you probably won’t want the prices too high, and therefore a newish chef will probably be the better option. If you want to appeal to a higher class of clientele, you might want a famous Chef. You’re menu should be tailored also, to suit the specific audience you are looking to appeal to.
Marketing, Announcements and Invites
The final touch and probably one of the most important in regards to people actually turning up, is the marketing, announcements and any invites you may want to send to specific people. All events have posters and flyers, that’s standard, so you’ll want to make sure you do too. Good design is very important, and to cover all of the basics of this would be an article (even several) in its own right. I’d recommend outsourcing this work to a professional designer.Make use of social networks by setting up fan pages and posting updates about what is happening with the projects. You could even offer surprise special deals for anyone that is regularly following you. Whatever you do, interact with your audience. Specific invitations to highly regarded food critics and food publications will help give you more exposure, even if it is after the restaurant has been taken down.
If you follow these guidelines and look at how similar projects have succeeded before, you should have a wonderful pop-up restaurant that will go down in history (and not infamy).