How to Open a Pop-up

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If you're thinking about starting a restaurant, coffee shop, or really any type of business, it's in your best interest to run it as a pop-up first. Pop-ups are a great way to get immediate feedback on your food, service, and the experience you're offering. It's also great way to avoid spending a ton of money up front and get the information you need to take the big leap. We'll walk you through the process and give you a few tips to getting started with setting up your first pop-up.



Planning is the most boring part for most people, but is also the most important part of doing anything. Having a solid plan makes the actual event run so much smoother—it's best to expect the unexpected. It will also help you focus on delivering the great food or drinks you're making.

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
— Abraham Lincoln



It's best to list out your goals for the event, this is essentially why you're doing it in the first place. These should realistic goals. For your first pop-up it'll be very difficult to forecast things like how much money you'll make so it's better to focus on things like getting a better understanding of pricing and value of your products, getting feedback on your dishes, aesthetic, and service. If there is a way to measure these things like a survey or score-card it can be incredibly helpful in the long run.


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This is the nuts and bolts of the event. Layout the basics of your pop-up in a way that matches the goals you've set. These are things like: deciding if it'll be a formal or casual event, the type of menu offering, will there be alcohol, will it be counter service or will we have servers? 

We suggest going for a prix-fixe menu over à-la-carte, and making it a no substitutions dinner. This way there are no variables, you can get an accurate perspective on what people like and expect, and it decreases the complication of dealing with tons of special requests.




Start by going broad and listing out all the ideas you've been saving in your head. This is everything from themes, colors, specific ingredients, etc. Once you have this giant list, go back to your goals and if the idea doesn't fit into those goals you can save that idea for another time. Try and make the theme the priority when choosing a space and fit the space to work with the idea.

Another way to mitigate risk would be to partner with another business that is in the same place. But make sure that the service they are providing compliments yours, and fits in the same theme (which you can work out together.)




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If you set a ticket price and sell tickets before the event you will know how much money you have for the event. This way is safer financially. Keep in mind when you're making your budget that the venue will be the most costly part of the event, so pay very close attention to the food costs. 

Make an organized list of all the things that need to be bought, prepared, organized etc. and make sure that they are all completed a few days before the event. It'll save you years of your life to be stress free about these things. Remember there are always way more decisions that need to be made than you can even think of, so even if it's a small detail make sure it is listed and organized.

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Stay tuned for the rest of the Pop-up Series. We still have to cover like, choosing venues, promotions, renting equipment, and insurance.


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