Top Tips for Launching a Pop Up Restaurant

1 Apr 2014

Grub Club was founded by Liv Sibony and Siddarth Vijayakumar as a collaborative platform connecting foodies with amazing dining experiences.
Driven by the belief that food is the way to bring joy and entertainment to all those around us. Grub Club links awesome chefs with underused spaces, diners can experience unique events where chefs showcase their skills, while also bringing a new lease of life to our high streets.

Feeling inspired? Appear Here caught up with Liv Sibony to find out what her top tips are for launching your own pop up restaurant:

What makes a good location for a pop up restaurant?

The key factor is the feel of the space. A pop up is about an informal space which makes people feel relaxed and enjoy talking to those around them. So someone that has a quirky interior, interesting architecture, requires a fun way to access it, etc will go a huge way in creating a good atmosphere for a pop up.

Clock Tower
The UNA Dining Experince in St Pancras Clock Tower

Accessibility is important as well. Or if it's slightly tricky to get to, it's helpful to give clear instructions to showcase how easy it actually is to get there. If it relies on Online exposure and not footfall, it makes sense to get somewhere slightly off the beaten track, as it reduces costs and makes the journey there more interesting.

It's important to take into account people's journey time if you do have a location slightly more challenging to get to. If it takes 20 min from the tube or overground, mention it to people so they don't all arrive a lot later than expected. If you are cooking a large meal, make sure to have served all the food and give everyone the chance to leave in tie for last tube/train so as not to make the location a hindrance.

BrixtonKitchen
The Brixton Kitchen Supper Club Space

What permits, licenses and insurance do I need?

For cooking, it's important to have a Food Hygiene Certificate as well as Personal Liability Insurance. These are key towards starting a pop up - they are simple to acquire and worth it for everyone's security and peace of mind. Though they are not yet mandatory, this will likely soon change and in the meantime, it's always good to be covered. Info can be found here http://grubclub.com/how-to-set-up-a-supperclub

How do I find staff to help me out on the night?

GrubClub.com has a network of chefs and volunteers often offering to help at others' pop ups (paid or unpaid - there are different benefits to both options) and we’re always happy to help spread the word to our networks if someone needs help for the night. Or generally sending messages through social media and personal networks is a great way to get enthusiasts who share the same interests and would like to be involved.

What’s the best way to source equipment?

There are great sharing networks such as http://www.streetbank.com/splash and http://economyofhours.com/ which enable people to share resources for free. It's a great way to source equipment for a short period and also to connect with local people who will likely be happy to share their equipment and to learn more about the pop up at the same time.

Kitchen

What are the best ways to get people to come?

It requires a lot of hard work on the ground. Go and meet the local organisations, local shops and cafes, your suppliers who can share cross promotion. Also, find key influencers on Social Media and blogs and approach them directly. It's important to think about the exact relevance of your pop up to that person. Be succinct and showcase why it's directly relevant to them and their target audience.

Only approach the bigger media if you genuinely thing it's something newsworthy and particularly unique that can give them a reason to write about it. If it's not so specialised, it's much more effective to reach out to smaller and more engaged groups who will actually pay attention to your pop up.

A good price also helps, especially in early days when you have a small following. Offering a free couple of seats to people who can help you spread the word is also really worthwhile. Take advance bookings and payment in advance. When you take cash on the door, you end up having around 30% no-shows which means loss of income and a less fun atmosphere for everyone when there are empty seats around.

Grub Club
Come Dine Below the Line by Chateau Canard

What sort of promotional material do I need / are pictures of my food important?

It's one of the most important things! People are really into Food Porn and that's the key thing that makes them book. The more beautiful and mouthwatering the picture, the more likely you are to have people booking to attend your dinner. It's worth getting a recent Photography Graduate to come and take pictures of your food and paying them in free food, in order to easily get professional quality pictures to help you showcase your pop up.

Tell a story on Social Media and a blog. Giving updates on your prep, taking pictures of you buying the produce from somewhere, sharing stories, helps engage your community with you and makes them feel they know you before even attending your dinner, which makes a huge difference and is what differentiates you from a traditional restaurant.

Food
The Hangover Club Brunch

What’s been your favourite pop up restaurant?

Tricky one! I enjoy so many of them in different ways, so it's hard for me to choose. I love A Little Lusciousness for her unpretentious yet flawless food, and her warm hospitality in her home in West London, which also promotes a great atmosphere and brings about interesting and outgoing people.

I also love Fab Cuisine - an Award Winning chef with an impressive background. I enjoy his food more than I have most Michelin starred restaurant. It's perfectly executed but has none of the stuffiness of traditional Michelin restaurants. His food is heavenly and the team he has is passionate, knowledgeable and welcoming.

I could carry on forever as I've been blessed to go to a huge number of supper clubs, but I'll stop there and let you discover your favourite ones for yourself though our platform Grub Club

Liv and Sid
Liv and Sid, Co Founders of Grub Club

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