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5 Steps For Starting the Perfect Pop-Up Restaurant

Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Table of Contents

Are you an aspiring or established chef? Are you looking to expand your culinary career or test out a new dining concept in a low-risk environment?

Consider the pop-up.

According to Eventbrite’s “Food & Drink Industry Insights Insider” Report, pop-ups events are “creating a new kind of entrepreneur”. Chefs willing to take risks are using these types of events “to build their brand and highlight their creativity without necessarily being tied to a brick and mortar restaurant”. Further adding to the argument to give this concept a try, pop-ups are the fastest growing event trend in the food & beverage industry right now. If your business is located in San Francisco, NYC, Boston, or LA, you live in a city at the helm of this movement. If not, have no fear. The growth is still impressive - the reported number of pop-up events planned across the country grew 82% year-over-year.

Hopefully we have impressed you enough with the facts and have convinced you to give the pop-up a try. Now you want to know how to go about preparing for such an event. Lucky for you, there are a ton of resources available online which we have curated for you. 

If you're looking for a good place to start from the ground floor, Read “The Pop-Up Playbook.” It's a step-by-step guide on planning any event, including advice from Pop-Up Pros and an Event Planning Toolkit. 

Here are a few things to consider in the event planning process: 

1. Apply for All Necessary Permits & Licenses

The last thing you want is to have your event shut down because you missed filing the required paperwork. If all of this is greek to you, start a conversation with a friend or restaurant collogue with pop-up experience about the following.

2. Determine if you Should Enlist PR Help 

It’s not always true that “If you build it, they will come”. Building a buzz is critical to turnout come event day. Depending on the size and scale of your event and your own skill set, assistance with both social media strategy and execution may be a worthwhile investment. Pop Up Republic, for example, specializes in promoting pop-ups across the country.

3. Consider using a service like DinnerLab

Solo chefs especially can get great help on pop-up execution from services that manage the whole event for you. Chefs simply apply online at, and they take you through the process of testing out your latest concept with a group of eager customers. The best part? Once you’re in, you’re in, and you can lather, rinse, repeat to your heart’s content.

4. Find your Benchmark(s) and Study Their Success 

Obviously you don’t want to go out with a “me too” concept but there is room to learn from the pros. Take Ace of Tastes, Papi Chulo in Partnership w/ Munchery, & Philly’s Summer Pop-Up in the Park Series (popular since 2011). Whatever form of pop-up you aspire to host, there are plenty of examples out there for comparison purposes!

5. Know Your Customer

It may sound simple, but if you want to win where this trend is concerned, it is critical to know your audience. And if how the millennial operates is unfamiliar to you, Eva Thurow’s Generation Yum is a quick, relevant, yet thorough read which will be an excellent reference for you. It is chock full of facts around the needs and habits of this particular demographic.

Now go forth & pop-up!