Pop-up Restaurants: What Makes Them Popular and Six Strategies to Consider For Launching One

By: Nina Padolf, PhD - Associate Faculty, General Education Department

November 22, 2017

Pop-up restaurants are mini-restaurants that temporarily operate in parks, warehouses, galleries, event centers and more. They use social media, like blogs, to get the word out to potential customers. Much like food trucks, they allow restaurateurs and chefs to hone their skills or test new food ideas. Part of their appeal is taking advantage of open spaces in warehouses that are not being used. Pop-up restaurants offer new flavors and foods that are not yet being offered in the areas that they set up.

According to The National Restaurant Association, here are some reasons why Pop-ups are becoming so popular:

Guest appeal. The millennial generation finds the creativity aspect trendy and appealing and they will also help spread the word to others.
Variety. Pop-ups offer quick-hit innovations with the ability to change menus. For example, a chef may operate a pop-up for a weekend, close, and open a new one the following weekend.
Affordability. Pop-ups don’t require long-term investments. They may pay rent for the duration that they occupy the space.
Higher check averages. Since the food offered may be rare, specialized products, customers are often more willing to pay more for the premium experience.
Portability. With the ability to move more city to city, it makes it easy to test products in different areas and determine how the brand is accepted or rejected.
Growth potential. The potential to grow and turn into a stand-alone restaurant or distributor is a possibility.
Small loss potential. If the area or product doesn’t work in one area, the costs of the loss are much less.

If you are considering launching a pop-up restaurant. here are six strategies to consider:

Plan limited seating. This will keep the costs down. Feature your latest menu.
Team with another restaurant that highlights both brands.
Plan weekly or bi-weekly pop-ups in your restaurants.
Prepare a theatrical pop-up. Make it impressive and unlike anything customers have seen before.
Connect with a cause. Consider donating a portion of the profit to a food bank or some other non profit.
Use your restaurant as a pop-up for others. If you are only open for lunch and dinner, have someone else offer breakfast. 

Join me for my next blog that will focus on help with writing a business plan and other important tips on how to launch your restaurant.

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By: Nina Padolf, PhD - Associate Faculty, General Education Department

November 22, 2017