5 Things to Keep in Mind When Launching a Pop Up Restaurant

Kitchen wizards with fine taste and a flair for flavor aren’t letting yesterday’s barriers get in the way of being a top restauranteur. Cooking up their wildest dishes and creating temporary, memorable dining experiences, chefs around the country are adding mobility and spontaneity to their recipe for success.

It’s not just some “foodie” trend. In fact, pop up restaurants are taking their profits to the bank. With 2.5 million eating from food carts daily, as estimated by the Food and Agricultural Organization, it’s safe to say there’s a huge portion of that market available for pop up restaurants. The here today, gone tomorrow aspect of a pop up restaurant makes these dining experiences ultra-exclusive and often times ads a touch of cultured cuisine not readily found in the city.

If you’ve always dreamed of opening your own restaurant but didn’t have the cash for the long-term investment – it’s never been as easy and affordable as it is today to take your specialty on the go. So, how do you take the cooking skills you’ve mastered at home on the road? Let’s break down the top things to keep in mind when launching your own pop up restaurant.

Plan Your Dining Format and Concept

It’s all in the details. With the recent rise in food trucks and pop up restaurants around New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, your dining experience needs to stand out from the rest. Your menu will be the main attraction for customers and should revolve around a theme that is executed throughout. When scouting locations, consider the size and logistics of your mobile kitchen and whether the area is easily assessable to the kind crowds you wish to serve. With your customers in mind, will you need to include a temporary dining room setting with tables and tents? Will you be preparing food in advance or cooking it on location? Does the location have access to water and electricity?  There is much to consider when developing your concept, from the decor down to the utensils.

Whether you’re going for an exclusive formal setting or a fish fry on the beach, you don’t want to forget the forks – or the laws and legalities. Make sure you apply or already have a business license, any necessary permits and required insurance prior to your opening.  Investing the time and energy on the front end takes the load of stress and anxiety off your plate for your upcoming event.

One option to consider is to host your at an already established business to bring some fresh flair to an existing location and benefit from their customers. It’s important to explore the longevity and if you’re looking to have a permanent location of your own, or to strictly stay a pop up?  Whether you plan on offering gourmet snacks at reduced prices or high-end finger foods, the great news is you’ll have full creative power over the menu and can test new recipes to entice new customers and impress potential investors.

Event Partners

Event partners offer a mutually beneficial collaboration that brings both parties new customers and can offer great insight. There are no limits when choosing collaborative partnerships. Every entrepreneur has their own tricks of the trade and the more unique your pop up is the greater the outcome will be. Look for opportunities with other brands or local influencers to increase interest by adding another element to their dining experience such as music, art, or lighting. Parks, plazas and warehouses can instantly be transformed into the venue of your dreams and can help create the hype of a now or never dining experience.

Building partnerships with community leaders and property owners is an excellent way to hit a wider audience who will need some grub to go with the provided entertainment. You want your pop up to be the complete package, filled with delicious food and enjoyable ambience. Theatres, bowling alleys, or other eating establishments can provide considerable cost savings and co-shared spaces that can help create fun venue ideas and partnerships for the future.

Realistic Budgeting

Next, you’ll want to map out a timeline and build a financial model. Note the consistent aspects of your model to calculate the average spend per event, including the staff needed, how you’re going to market and promote the event, and the needed ingredients and supplies for what you’ll be serving. A common trick to increase the food budget is to cut hiring costs and use friends and family as staff.  It’s important to calculate your expenses right down to the penny per event so you get the most out of your budget.

Another tip to keep costs down is to sell tickets in advance, so you are aware of the exact amount food needed and can plan accordingly. The last thing you want to do is turn away customers. Charging set amount with a fixed price menu helps predetermine the exact supplies needed in an already limited amount of kitchen and cooking space. Controlling the price of food helps stay within a budget and keeps the kitchen running smoothly.

Goal Setting

Much like a standard business plan, you should have attainable goals for how to achieve your vision of restaurant success. Setting an end target will help you measure and track your growth. Performance and numbers should be reevaluated each quarter to determine if you’ve met your financial goals and where you need to improve. Establish standards to help you keep on course and develop company values that reflect your product quality and customer service.

The effort you put into fine tuning your menu and staff will greatly affect your bottom line. Millennials are all about the novelty and creativity and sharing that experience with others. Your customers play a huge role in effective marketing and what they share, be it with family or on social media, will revolve around your overall presentation and personality. Your goals should align with a mission of customer satisfaction.

Promote Your Events

Exclusivity is a huge draw. Most pop up restaurants gather interested fans on a blog, website or social media, where they announce the events and sell a limited amount of tickets, sometimes just hours before they open. Your website should have embedded event registration for your customers to easily discover, register and pay for your events – all within your site. You never want your customers leaving your page and potentially landing on a competitors site.  But how do you connect your website to a ticketing platform without losing valuable customer data? That’s where Sparxo comes in.

Many pop up restaurants have switched to Sparxo because it gives them the tools needed to collect ticket information, manage attendees and keep track of all events.  With a completely integrated solution, customers can purchase tickets without ever leaving your site. Don’t worry. If you don’t have a website Sparxo has a great splash page design tool that allows users to create a beautiful page hosted on their site.  It also allows event promotion with videos, pictures and sound files. With a low-cost solution and a simple setup, you can start selling tickets within minutes with Sparxo! Sign up today.