December 12, 2022
Alipio Umiten IV

What Is a Pop Up Restaurant? 13 Easy Steps to Open One

Among current food trends, the pop up restaurant is one of the most fresh and exciting for customer experiences.

It’s worth considering as you explore the idea of becoming an entrepreneur and opening a restaurant. But what exactly is a pop up restaurant? 

Read on to learn what a pop up restaurant is and how to open one in 13 easy steps.

Key Takeaway: Pop up restaurants offer business owners a fresh, simple, and profitable way to engage new markets with exciting spins on the classic dining experience.
Revolution Ordering helps pop up restaurants get organized for higher profitability.

What Is a Pop Up Restaurant?

A pop up restaurant is a temporary restaurant typically set up for a limited time to promote a new menu or generate buzz around a particular event

Pop-ups are often used to test new concepts or secret menu ideas before committing to a permanent on-premise location. They can be found in various settings, from food trucks and carts to abandoned warehouses and vacant storefronts.

Pop ups are popular recently as they offer customers an opportunity to try something new and unique. They also allow chefs and restaurateurs to experiment with different concepts and menus without the overhead costs associated with opening a brick and mortar restaurant.

Pop up restaurants are about creating an unforgettable atmosphere, from food to decor. Diners love them because they can try out unique dishes and experience something different every time.

How Does the Pop Up Restaurant Work?

For the most part, a pop up will operate just like any other restaurant. But, key differences that set them apart:

  • Pop-ups typically don’t have their own physical space; instead, they “pop up” in existing restaurants or other locations.
  • The menu is usually limited, offering only a few entree dishes and a dessert. This allows the chef to focus on perfecting each dish.
  • Pop-up restaurants often have relaxed rules and regulations than traditional eateries. This allows chefs to experiment with new ideas and dishes that they may not be able to get away with in a more formal setting.
  • Pop-up restaurants often partner with local businesses to source their ingredients and supplies. This keep costs down and supports the community.
  • Reservations are often required well in advance since they’re only open for a limited time.
  • Many pop-ups only operate for a few nights or weeks.

Are Pop Up Restaurants Legal?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. This includes the jurisdiction where the pop-up restaurant is located and the type of business license it holds. Pop-up restaurants may sometimes require a special event permit in order to operate legally.

So, are pop up restaurants legal? The answer may surprise you. In many cases, pop ups are actually perfectly legal. This is because most jurisdictions do not have any specific laws regulating temporary restaurants. As long as the pop up complies with general food safety laws, it should be fine.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that all pop ups are entirely legal. In some cases, zoning laws prohibit restaurants from operating in certain areas. And in other cases, the temporary nature of a pop up restaurant may violate health codes or other regulations. So it’s always a good idea to check with your local authorities before setting up a pop up restaurant to ensure you comply with all applicable laws.

Before opening a pop-up restaurant, it is important to research the laws and regulations in your area to ensure compliance. Failure to do so could result in costly fines or even the closure of your business.

How to Start a Pop Up Restaurant

Starting a pop-up restaurant can be a great way to test out your culinary concepts, and it can also be a lot of fun. If you’re thinking about starting your own pop-up restaurant, here are 13 tips to get you started:

1. Choose Your Pop Up Restaurant Concept

The first step in starting a pop-up restaurant is to choose your concept or focus on a specific niche market. What type of food will you serve? What kind of atmosphere do you want to create?

Casual dining is always popular, and you can get creative with your menu choices by following food trends. Family style dining is another option that can be casual or more formal, depending on your desired atmosphere.

Regardless of the type of pop up you envision, remember that the key to success is creating an experience that diners will enjoy and want to return for. Once you have a good idea of what you want your pop-up to be, you can start on how to make a restaurant menu and other details.

2. Create a Pop Up Business Plan

Like any other business, you’ll need to write a business plan for your pop-up restaurant. This should include an overview of your concept, a marketing plan, a financial plan, and a detailed operational plan. 

A well-thought-out business plan will help you stay organized and on track as you get your pop-up up and running.

3. Decide on a Pop Up Restaurant Location

One of the most important aspects of starting a pop-up restaurant is choosing the right location. You’ll want to find a centrally located spot and easy for your customers to get to. 

Ensure that there’s enough space to set up your kitchen and in-room dining area, and that there are no zoning or permit issues that could cause problems down the road.

4. Look into Pop Up Restaurant Legalities

Before opening your pop-up restaurant, you’ll need to ensure that you comply with all relevant legal requirements. 

This includes obtaining necessary licenses and permits, such as an eCommerce business license if you plan to establish an eCommerce website and getting a liquor license if you plan to open a bar

Failure to comply with the law could result in hefty fines, so it’s important to do your research and ensure you’re covered from a legal standpoint.

5. Gather Equipment for a Pop Up Kitchen

If you’re operating a pop up restaurant, you’ll need to have the right restaurant equipment on hand. This includes everything from cooking appliances to serving ware. 

You’ll also need storage containers for transporting food and supplies, as well as coolers and ice chests to keep food fresh.

6. Design Your Marketing and Advertising Strategy

Just because your restaurant is temporary doesn’t mean your branding should be. In fact, it’s even more important to have a strong restaurant branding strategy for a pop up since you’ll need to stand out from the crowd. 

Work with a professional designer to create your restaurant’s logo and visual identity. Then, develop a restaurant marketing and advertising plan that will generate excitement and get people talking about your pop up.

7. Have a Solid Financial Plan

Before opening your doors, you need to have a solid financial plan. This includes figuring out your cost to open a quick-service restaurant, food cost, and determining your operating expenses. Once you have a good understanding of your finances, you can start setting menu prices.

Another essential factor to consider is demand planning and inventory forecasting. You’ll need to estimate how much food you’ll need to prepare each day and make sure you have enough inventory on hand to meet customer demand.

8. Build Your Pop Up Restaurant Menu

Now it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to serve at your pop up restaurant. 

Will you offer a prix fixe menu or a la carte service? What type of cuisine will you focus on? And most importantly, how will you make your food stand out from the rest? 

Work with a professional chef to develop a menu that will excite and tantalize your guests’ taste buds.

9. Find Your Pop Up Restaurant Inventory Supplier

If you’re selling food at your pop-up restaurant, then you’ll need to find a reliable supplier of fresh ingredients. 

To get started, research and look for wholesale food suppliers. Once you’ve found a few potential vendors, reach out and inquire about their minimum order requirements and pricing.

10. Invest In a Restaurant Point of Sale System

When it comes to restaurant technology, a point of sale (POS) system is a must-have for any restaurant, pop-up or otherwise. 

A POS system will allow you to accept credit and debit card payments, print receipts, and track sales data. Further, a mobile POS system will help your pop up transact without needing fixed hardware.

When choosing POS partners for your pop-up restaurant, select one that is easy to use and set up.

11. Craft Up the Design and Atmosphere

Your pop-up restaurant’s design and atmosphere should reflect the concept you’re trying to create. 

If you’re going for a casual vibe, keep things simple with exposed brick walls and reclaimed wood furnishings. For a more upscale experience, consider using luxurious fabrics and finishes.

12. Hire Your Team

No restaurant can run successfully without a great team in place. In fact, seeing a restaurant buckle under the pressure of customer demand shows the meaning of understaffed.

So, when staffing your pop-up restaurant, hire employees passionate about food and customer service.

13. Time to Open Doors

Once you’ve taken care of all the necessary preparations, it’s time to open your doors to the public. Promote your grand opening through social media and other restaurant marketing strategies. And most importantly, don’t forget to have fun! Running a pop-up restaurant can be a challenging but rewarding experience.

Starting a pop-up restaurant can be a great way to enter the food and restaurant industry without making a long-term commitment. 

By following these tips, you can increase your chances of success and ensure that your pop-up is a fun and exciting dining experience for your customers.

BinWise can help you open a pop up restaurant through intelligent food tech.

How Much Does It Cost to Open a Pop Up Restaurant?

The cost of opening a pop-up restaurant varies greatly depending on factors like location, size, and duration. However, some estimates put the average cost of launching a successful pop-up restaurant at around $10,000-$20,000. Of course, this is just a rough estimate–some pop-ups may cost more or less to get off the ground.

Generally speaking, the longer a pop-up is open, the more expensive it will be to run. This is because more fixed costs are associated with running a restaurant, such as rent, utilities, staff salaries, and restaurant food costs that need to be covered. Additionally, if a pop-up is located in a high-traffic area or serves gourmet food, it will tack on restaurant expenses as well..

If you’re thinking about opening a pop-up restaurant, it’s essential to do your research and create a detailed restaurant budget before moving forward. With careful planning and a solid D2C business model, your pop-up can be a success!

The Pros of Opening a Pop Up Restaurant

There are several benefits to opening a pop-up restaurant. Some of those that restaurant owners recognize early on include low-risk flexibility compared to high-ticket foot traffic. Explore the top advantages below.

Low Cost of Entry

One of the biggest advantages of a pop-up restaurant is that the cost of entry is relatively low. You won’t need to invest in expensive equipment or décor, and you can often negotiate short-term leases for space. This makes it an ideal option for budding entrepreneurs looking to test their concept without breaking the bank.


Another big plus of pop-ups is that they offer a high degree of flexibility. If your concept isn’t working out, you can pack up and move on to another location. This is much harder to do with a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant.


Since pop-ups are often short-lived, there’s less pressure to conform to traditional restaurant norms. This allows you to be creative in your approach, whether with your menu, décor, or marketing. Customers will appreciate the unique experience, which can help you stand out from the competition.

Increased Foot Traffic

If you choose your location wisely, a pop-up restaurant can help increase foot traffic to your business. For example, setting up shop in a busy shopping district or near a popular tourist attraction can bring in customers who might not have otherwise known about your restaurant.


If done right, a pop-up restaurant can maximize profits. This is because you don’t have the same overhead costs as a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant. Plus, customers are often willing to pay more for the experience of dining at a pop-up.

Social Media Buzz

Social media can be a powerful marketing tool in today’s digital age. A well-executed pop-up will likely generate some buzz on popular platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. This can help increase your visibility and attract new customers.

Low Risk

Starting a pop-up is relatively low-risk compared to opening a traditional restaurant. This is because you can typically open and close a pop-up much quicker and with less investment.

Keep these benefits in mind if you’re considering opening a pop-up restaurant.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pop Up Restaurants

Explore the purpose, advantages, and simple process of pop up restaurants with common questions from other restauranteurs. See how you can use pop up restaurant examples and practices to succeed at capturing excited new customers.

What Is the Purpose of Pop Up Restaurants?

The main purpose of pop-up restaurants is to generate buzz and excitement around a new restaurant menu or concept. They can also be used as a way to test out new ideas before opening a permanent restaurant.

What Are Some Examples of Pop Up Restaurants?

Some examples of successful pop-up restaurants include:

  • Otaku Ramen
  • Superiority Burger
  • Lazy Bear
  • Saison

How Long Do Pop Up Restaurants Typically Last?

The longevity of pop-up restaurants depends on various factors, such as concept popularity, the demand from customers, and the availability of funding. 

Some pop-ups may only be open for a few days or weeks. Others may stay open for months or even years. Additionally, some pop-up restaurants eventually transition into permanent establishments.

Are You Ready to Pop Up?

So, what’s the verdict? Are you ready to open a pop-up restaurant and join this growing trend? 

With a little effort, your pop-up restaurant could become the next big thing! Following the tips in this blog post, you should be well on your way to a successful pop up restaurant.

Launch a pop up restaurant in a few simple steps with software from Revolution Ordering.