Pop-up restaurants can be a great way for restaurant owners to showcase their brand in different markets and see if there is a real demand there. They can also be a great tool for new chefs who want to test the waters and see if they have what it takes to run a restaurant. While running a pop-up restaurant is less costly than running a real one, you still have to be careful. Being prepared will allow you to reach your objectives without wasting too much money in the process. Let’s take a look at a few practical tips for launching your pop-up restaurant.
Look at Your Objectives
You first have to assess your goals for your pop-up restaurant as it will affect your strategy. It will affect things such as how extensive a menu you should be serving and how long it will remain open. If you want to test a market, for instance, you may want to stay there for a few weeks so you can see if your restaurant can build traction. But, if it’s for a charity, you can have it up only for a few days. You won’t need to have as extensive of a menu either.
Find a Location
Any location that has the installations for cooking and meets safety standards can be used for a pop-up restaurant. But, in most cases, it’s usually better to go for an existing kitchen space. You may have trouble finding a regular space where you’ll be able to build a dining area that will have the electric and plumbing setup to operate a commercial kitchen.
Renting a food truck is another option you can pick. This could allow you to save money and have a nice little space that won’t require much maintenance. The only issue is that you might be limited in your choices and won’t be able to have an inside dining room, but this can be fixed by setting up an outside dining area with patio chairs, tables, and tents.
Build Your Menu
If you already own a restaurant and your goal is to showcase your brand, you should consider limiting your menu to a few items. Concentrate on the items that you do the best and sell the most. You won’t have to worry about wasting inventory, and will increase the chance that people are satisfied with what you serve them.
Look into the Logistics
You might also want to revise your processes if you want to run the pop-up restaurant as efficiently as possible. You can decide to par-bake some of the items or prepare some dishes in advance. You could prepare the food at your main location and use eating stations and cabinets to keep them warm, for instance. There are some cases where there will be little noticeable difference in quality and your logistics will be greatly facilitated.
You will need to look into insurance before you launch your pop-up restaurant. You might be asking why you would need restaurant insurance for a pop-up restaurant, but you never know what might happen.
You could get into an accident while delivering items and equipment to the location, or you might end up causing significant damage there. If you decide to hire workers for that day only and they get injured, you need to be covered as well. There’s also the chance that one of your patrons gets injured or that one of your employees causes damage to their property. This is also a case where you’ll need coverage.
Start Advertising it
You will now have to build hype around your pop-up restaurant. One of the best ways to do this is through social media. If you have a solid Facebook following, this is a great place to start advertising your pop-up restaurant. You can also set up a temporary website for your pop-up restaurant using a platform like Wix or Yola. If you have a loyalty program and newsletter, blast messages to your subscribers and try to give them an incentive to come, like free items, for instance. You should also encourage them to spread the word about the restaurant to people they know.
There are also affiliate programs that you could use or become a part of that could help promote your place, service & brand. Affiliate programs have pools of online marketers that promote deals offered through their platforms. You could become a part of their offerings. Read about them here, find new ideas on how to expand or upgrade your service. For example, you could expand your service to food delivery (which is becoming increasingly popular during this pandemic time) and there is an affiliate program for it. There’s one that promotes restaurant deals and so on.
If you follow these few simple tips, you’ll have a much greater chance of success with your pop-up restaurant. Take your time, choose the right spot, and have clearly defined objectives from the get-go.