Temporary restaurants, known as pop-ups, are making inroads across the country in a very competitive industry. These places may open for one night or a few weeks before moving on.
A restaurant entrepreneur, rather than investing hundreds or thousands of dollars in a fixed location; establishes a temporary location with a functioning kitchen. The most common locations are at established restaurants on their closed days or for charitable events at museums.
The chefs use these pop-ups to try new, cutting edge recipes or to prepare a specialized menu. In Detroit, Michigan, Gina Onyx started a pop-up with an authentic Indonesian menu. Using social media and web-based reservations, her limited seating sold out.
Some pop-ups appear around events: a rodeo weekend in Arizona, a Cajon place during Mardi Gras, or at a cultural festival in Chicago.
These pop-ups provide significant opportunities. A chef can offer a menu targeted to a very narrow audience to provide a unique experience for diners. This provides an opportunity to test new, sometimes radical ideas, without the high cost and overhead of a regular establishment. If an idea fails, the entrepreneur may lose some money but won’t be heading to bankruptcy court.
Furthermore, an aspiring restaurant owner has the opportunity to develop all aspects of a restaurant from menu to staff training to marketing. When the owner demonstrates an ability to manage these temporary projects, the owner may be ready for more responsibility.
Marketing pop-ups focuses on social media and word of mouth. Limited seating and the narrow time window provides an exclusive image. The atmosphere is often more like a private party than a restaurant.
Currently, these pop-ups are limited. Given the work effort to set up, market and execute; I doubt they will become commonplace. Paul wrote, “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NIV) These pop-ups provide an opportunity to test and validate concepts that work without a major cost commitment.
Steve Marr, Your Christian Business Coach
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