The Art of Short-Term Meals: How to Start a Pop-Up Restaurant


Not all restaurants have to be a full-fledged permanent operation. Pop-ups are gaining ground as a new way to get started in the restaurant industry. Whether you’re testing out a new menu concept or building a restaurant for just one night, pop-ups give restaurateurs the chance to get started in the hospitality business, without the long-term commitments of a regular restaurant.

While pop-up restaurants have grown in popularity in recent years, their history dates back to the 1960s, when supper clubs were all the rage. In 2021, pop-up restaurants are popping up all over the world, making it one of the most popular restaurant types with a 82% year-on-year growth.

If you’re looking to jump into the restaurant industry with a temporary location, check out our tips on how to start and promote your new business.

What is an ephemeral restaurant?

Pop-up restaurants can take many different forms, but they are essentially temporary restaurants that vary in size, location and concept. Pop-up restaurants exist for a limited time. However, the duration can vary from one day to several months. Their lifespan depends entirely on the initial objective as well as any existing limitations around the restaurant (licenses, lease, etc.).

Pop-up restaurants exist for many different reasons, but for many chefs and restaurateurs, they are a great way to test the waters before embarking on a larger project. Some restaurateurs use pop restaurants to test the following:

  • A specific notion
  • New locations
  • New menus
  • A specific audience

By opting for a pop-up restaurant, restaurateurs can test new ideas without the investments and risks associated with starting a new restaurant.

Types of pop-up restaurants

Pop-ups come in all shapes and sizes. They can even be installed within an existing restaurant. If a specific restaurant only opens for dinner, for example, a pop-up restaurant could be set up to offer breakfast, lunch, or even brunch. The use of an existing restaurant reduces the costs and logistics of installing or finding a space with all the equipment and specificities necessary for the operation of a restaurant.

Pop-up restaurants can be anything from a temporary stall in a summer food market to an overnight restaurant. experiential mealrooftop event.

How to start your own pop-up restaurant

While opening a temporary restaurant doesn’t require the same level of investment as a full-time restaurant, there is still a lot to consider before opening day.

Concept and menu

What makes your concept special? Your first step as an upcoming pop-up is to take the time to create a unique concept, something that isn’t readily available elsewhere that sets you apart from the crowd. Choosing a unique concept will be the key to marketing your new business because novelty plays a big role in this type of restaurant.

Once you have decided on your concept, you need to determine your menu. Most pop-up menus only offer a limited number of options with a fixed price or “fixed price”. Whatever you choose will depend entirely on your theme, but keep in mind that being original and coming up with something different will play a key role in your success.


Part of what makes pop-ups special is that most of them have an unusual temporary location. Will you be using an existing space? Do you need a lot of specialized equipment? Will a tent or stand do the trick? Once you have chosen your concept, you will be able to research the ideal location to meet your idea for a pop-up.

You will also need to consider the lease. Will you be renting the site for one night, a few weeks or several months? All of this will determine the rate, ease of availability, and the type of contract or lease you will need to sign.


Opening a new restaurant requires a laundry list of equipment and tools. A pop-up restaurant may not need everything as it usually does restaurant equipment list, but you will still need to be equipped to be operational. Depending on how long you plan to host your pop-up, you might want to consider renting rather than buying. If your pop-up is only going to be for one night, you will only have to rent, but if you plan to be open for several months, you may need to buy.

If you don’t plan to use an existing restaurant space, you may need the following types of equipment for your pop-up:

  • Tables, chairs, cutlery
  • Kitchen utensils: pots, pans, cutting boards and tables
  • Equipment: portable grill, oven, deep fryer, pizza oven, hob
  • Fridge or freezer
  • Chafing dish, dish warmer or steam tables
  • Point of sale

The type of kitchen equipment you need will largely depend on your concept. For example, if you are opening a pop-up pizzeria you will definitely need a portable pizza oven, but if you are opening a barbecue you will need a smoker and cooking equipment. Start with your concept and your equipment list will flow from there.

Whichever concept you choose, you’ll need some great tools to keep taking orders seamlessly. Choose a catering platform or point of saleit’s intuitive, efficient and lets you take orders without a hitch.

Licenses and permits

While the original pop-ups or dinner clubs were underground in nature, your modern pop-up should be equipped with all the necessary permits, licensesand Assurancecompulsory for a restaurant. Even if your restaurant will only be open temporarily, you will still need to fill out the necessary paperwork, and this can take some time no matter how long your pop-up intends to stay open. Will you be alcoholic drinks? You will need a liquor licensefor that.

Be sure to check your city’s rules and regulations months before you decide to open. When it comes to permits, spare no effort.

How to promote your pop-up

Most pop-up restaurants don’t exist long enough to build a solid client base. Some are only there for an evening and don’t have time to have fun after the opening night. Given the limited time offer, pop-ups are heavily reliant on some form of marketing to generate excitement before they open.

Build enthusiasm with public relations

Write a media pitch for your popular foodie newspapers, magazines, and social media channels. Give them the scoop on your opening day, the concept and explain your contextual timeline. Your restaurant’s limited time will already turn heads, so be sure to write messages that will get the media even more excited about your opening.

Create a presence on social networks

Social mediais the key to any restaurant, temporary or permanent. No matter how long your restaurant has been around, you will always need a way to talk to potential customers and communicate. Start by setting up the usual channels: Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Set up your accounts and start posting previews of your dishes, location, and everything in between to get people excited.

Work with local food influencers

You may want to partner with local food influencers to get the word out. If your pop-up opens for more than one night, it may even be worth organizing a party especially for the press and influencers to get them talking and sharing their experience with their followers. If you’re starting from scratch, engaging local influencers is a great way to reach new audiences.

Make your pop-up restaurant explode

Pop-up restaurants are all about novelty. These pop-up restaurants are shaking up the industry by bringing creativity, excitement and anticipation in short bursts. Take the time to create an original idea that will leave a lasting impression and help pave the way for future restoration ventures.

Are you looking for the right point of sale to get started? Talk to one of our expertsto find out how Lightspeed can help you.


Lightspeed Commerce Inc. published this content on September 21, 2021 and is solely responsible for the information it contains. Distributed by Public, unedited and unmodified, on September 21, 2021 09:01:03 PM UTC.

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