How to Run a Successful Pop-Up Kitchen

The hospitality industry has been hit harder than most by the rigours of the past few years. Just as people slowly returned from the various restrictions and guidance relating to the gathering, unprecedented price hikes for supplies have made it all the harder for established businesses to survive. Enter: the pop-up.

The pop-up kitchen has become an increasingly popular business model for intrepid chefs looking for a unique way to ply their trade while keeping things fresh. Their running costs are lower than retaining a permanent venue, and their relative mobility in terms of theme and location make them much more viable a business model today.

The opportunities with a pop-up are also endless, depending on the kind of pop-up you’d like to run. Food trucks offer unprecedented mobility, and the ability to take up pitches at weekend festivals and events around the country, while online food ordering services enable the creation of short-term ‘dark kitchens’ to serve up fresh menus for a limited time only.

Whatever your angle or idea, you’ll need a robust plan to get it off the ground and work without a hitch. So, what should you do to get your pop-up ready for the public?

Settle On a Location

Choosing where you’ll base your pop-up is usually the best first step to take, as it allows you to build a clear vision for your pop-up concept. You could let the  ideal demographic for a pre-existing idea inform your choice of venue, or you could review some options for spaces and base your concept around them.

This is also a good first step for those with ambitions to create a mobile concept or business; thinking about the places you’ll pitch up enables you to draft your concept with those events and pitches in mind. As an example, you could be offered a pitch at a music festival, and use the line-up for the stage nearest to you as inspiration for your dishes. Location can beget concept, whatever the model.

Address Health and Safety

Whatever your location, concept or model, it is of crucial importance that you administrate obtaining the right health and safety documentation – from first aid training to adherence to both food safety and workplace health and safety law.

The latter is particularly important, especially when it comes to putting your kitchen together. Safety needs to be a primary concern from the outset; if in a brick-and-mortar location, whether as a dark kitchen or pop-up sit-in restaurant, your kitchen floor needs anti-slip paint to prevent injury. In essence, robust measures need to be taken, and documentation drawn up, to create an airtight health and safety regimen that puts staff and customer health and safety first.

Market Your Business

Marketing is a difficult thing to get off the ground for a new business, especially in a thriving independent scene full of competitors. However, the independent hospitality sector is also one of the most embracing sectors.

Brands and businesses help each other out, and advertise one another to their patrons to strengthen the industry in solidarity with one another – the same is true of pop-ups, food trucks and market stalls alike. Use local businesses to host flyers, while targeting your demographic at similar events or locations to your upcoming pop-up. Social media and mailing lists are also indispensable.

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