The pop-up restaurant is a growing trend taking the catering industry by storm from cities to rural towns, pop-up restaurants are popping up just about everywhere! They can offer anything from basic fast food to gourmet and fusion dishes, the concept lends itself perfectly to those looking to express their creativity and those who wish to consume it.

What is a pop-up restaurant?

Popularised by ‘supper clubs’ in the 1960s the pop-up restaurant is a restaurant that operates temporary in an unexpected or previously determined location for example festivals, one-night events, a one-off and shopping centre food halls.

A pop up restaurant can last anything from a few hours to several months.

They are an ideal solution for festivals, one-off events and particularly for chefs or restauranteurs wanting to ‘test the water’ for a new restaurant concept. Operating in a certain area for several weeks or months allows you to resolve any issues that may arise and ensure you are targeting the right market – if there is a positive response to your new concept then you can take the leap to turn the pop up restaurant into a permanent fixture.

The purpose of a pop-up restaurant

We’ve covered a couple of the purposes of a pop-up restaurant above but here are a few different reasons why you may be considering a pop-up restaurant rather than a brick and mortar location.

  • Test out a restaurant or menu concepts temporarily
  • Open a kitchen to supply food for festivals, benefits or charity events
  • Attract potential investors looking to see your concept in action
  • Chefs can offer high-end, gourmet food at a more affordable price by cutting out restaurant costs
  • Offer total creative freedom to chefs without a large risk factor

Pop-up restaurant benefits

A pop-up restaurant brings many benefits to the restauranteur and the consumer, there is a reason why they are so popular and trendy! There is less financial risk and allows for growth potential while consumers can indulge in trying new and exciting menu concepts that they may otherwise never have had the chance to experience.  There is still a novelty around pop-up restaurants and appeal to millennials, foodies and because they are so accessible, consumers of all ages. They rely heavily on the consumer to spread the word and millennials love social media – both to shout about new and cool restaurants and places to eat but also using it to show them the next popular restaurant to visit. So, not only is it less risk financiallly but the marketing is taken care of by the consumer!

The lower cost of setting up a pop-up restaurant means that consumers have access to high-end food at lower prices as the restauranteur’s overheads are lower. On the flip side, more unique foods can be sold at a premium as consumers encounter new and exciting tastes and experiences. The most amazing benefit of a pop-up restaurant is that if your concept doesn’t go down well in one area, you just simply need to pack up and move to a different destination without the huge financial burdens.

Setting up a pop-up restaurant

There is still plenty to do when setting up a pop-up restaurant and it is vital that you follow local and government guidelines and regulations and on top of all of that you need to work with a reputable company on the design and build of your pop up restaurant and ensure you have all the correct catering equipment in place.

  • Make sure you obtain a temporary business licence and an alcohol licence if you are planning on selling alcohol
  • Ensure your insurance is in place, public liability insurance is an absolute must
  • Train any staff in proper food safety practices
  • Have access to water and electricity
  • Implement a HACCP program
  • Keep accurate records of your takings for tax purposes

Once your concept and all the necessary paperwork is in order it’s time to get started! Here are some handy tips to follow for success.

Offer BYOB

This is a great option if you are struggling to get an alcohol licence or if you don’t want to! Guests like this idea – it’s generally cheaper for them and they often stay longer and order more food. You will need to check that the area where you set up allows BYOB.

Offer a limited or prix fixe menu

Your storage will be limited so offering a limited or prix fixe menu it means you only need to store what you offer. To add some diversity to your menu you can change your menu every other day to keep customers engaged with your offering and let them try new things.

Guest Chefs

What an absolute treat for your guests! Think about offering to host a guest high-end chef for a few nights or a week – this way your guests, again, get to try something different and exciting mixing u their dining experiences and giving you the low down on what works well.

Less can be more

The time your pop up restaurant is available is a big consideration. Sometimes less time has a bigger impact, by creating a sense of urgency customers know they only have a limited time to try your foods and will be more willing to hurry down to grab a dish. Shorter stays can sometimes be more profitable than longer setups.

Check out local events and work with the organisers

Research local events and speak with organisers to get a spot and offer your menu to event goers. This is a great way to get some free marketing and have access to large crowds without having to do much!

Use social media

We’ve touched on this above – plenty of users of social will promote your business for you – especially if you offer something a little different or if your pop up restaurant is a little quirky or different. You can also use social to post your location/up-coming locations, post pictures of your dishes and specials and guest chefs. Social media is the way to hungry tums….43% of all users have an interest in food and drink and that’s huge considering there are 1 billion Instagram users alone. (

We recently created a pop-up restaurant for Kwackers who offer award-winning street food – Kwackers was founded in 2014 created to serve festival-goers up and down the UK. It was created to serve amazing street food based on duck. With wraps to burgers, salads to boa buns Kwackers with it’s quirky outlook has catered at some of the biggest and most loved festivals in the UK. We recently set them up with their first static location open 363 days a year in West Quay Shopping Centre, Southampton.

Kwackers pop-up restaurant