If you’re a whizz in the kitchen and love entertaining, you could be the perfect candidate to make some extra money by running a pop-up restaurant in your home.
Ever thought about it?
If not, here’s a basic guide to get you started:
- What is a pop-up restaurant?
- Why set one up?
- How to set one up?
- Food sharing sites to check out
- How much can I make?
As the name suggests, pop-up restaurants are temporary dining experiences operated from anywhere but a traditional eatery – people’s homes, abandoned factories, pedestrian streets, the beach… you name it.
Based on the concept of dinner clubs, the whole premise behind the pop-up restaurant is to offer an exciting, limited edition culinary experience that is exclusive, social and shareable.
If you’re reading this article, chances are pretty good that you enjoy the whole ‘foodie’ culture and may even have a special dream of one day owning a restaurant of your own.
While running a restaurant can be hugely rewarding, it’s also full of financial risk, which is obviously something most of us would choose to avoid.
However, that doesn’t mean you should bury your ambition.
A pop-up restaurant could be a fun alternative and an amazing opportunity to hone your skills.
Here are a few more reasons to consider setting one up:
Since you will be running it from your home (or any other interesting place you may have permission to use), you won’t have an extra set of business bills to worry about. Your biggest initial expense may be kitting yourself out with quality equipment – from robust pots and pans to attractive cutlery, crockery and table decorations.
After that, your funds will mainly go into buying fresh ingredients and occasional maintenance.
If you’re a young chef waiting for your big break, there can be no better way to refine your craft than running a pop-up restaurant from home. It will give you an opportunity to set up your own menus, experiment with unusual dishes that traditional restaurants may avoid and get honest feedback from your guests.
Reach a more engaged audience
The great thing about pop up restaurants is that it encourages quality, instead of quantity – not only in the amount you’re cooking, but also in the number of people you’re cooking for. Instead of preparing meals for a faceless mass, you have the opportunity to curate who sits down at your table. The fact is, people who aren’t passionate about the art of food and hospitality won’t be attracted to the pop-up restaurant concept.
Become a social media sensation
If you create meals and experiences that are visually pleasing, they will automatically be shareable too. Whether you’re looking to push boundaries or to perfect traditional cuisine, make sure your presentation warrants a snap or two. Once guests start sharing on their social media platforms, your popularity will boom.
While it may be easier to set up than a traditional restaurant, there are still a few things to put in place:
Choose a location
While running a pop-up restaurant from your own home may be the simplest and cheapest option, you can really set one up anywhere that allows you. Perhaps your home is too small for the dining experience you envision, or maybe your kitchen is inadequate.
No need to worry – instead, spend some time scouting unusual locations close-by and find out (from your local authorities, building managers etc.) how you could go about utilising these spaces.
Make sure to source your catering equipment from a reputable company, whether you are buying it or renting it.
Come up with a concept
Once you know where you’ll host your events, it’s time to refine that concept that’s been brewing in the back of your mind. Are you going to be serving family recipes passed down through generations or perhaps ultra-modern fusion cuisine? Whatever you decide to do, the more well-packaged your program, the better.
Find a co-host
It can be rather stressful doing everything on your own. Get your partner, a friend, family member or co-worker to help you host the event. It helps to have two people sharing entertainment, cooking and cleaning responsibilities.
Apply for licenses
If you want to run your pop-up restaurant properly (and, believe us, you do), you are going to need to apply for a few licenses… just like any other catering business.
Read through this article on the Food Standards Agency website to get a basic idea and then approach your local authorities to find out what exactly they require from you.
Now that you’ve got everything ready, it’s time to decide on a date for your first pop-up and advertise like mad.
Creating a Facebook event is probably the easiest way of getting the word out there these days and also sharing on other social media channels.
If you want to add an extra edge to your marketing, bring in an element of mystery. For example, keep the location a secret – only sharing directions with guests an hour or two before the event.
One of the easiest ways to get into the pop-up restaurant scene is to sign up as a host on a food sharing site.
Here are a few popular options:
- EatWith – a website offering users an easy way to access the underground food scene and connect with creative, open-minded and interesting people.
- BonAppetour – a community marketplace that connects travellers with local home chefs for a unique home-dining experience, anywhere around the world.
- VizEat – also geared specifically toward travellers, the site helps foodies share a meal or experience a cooking class with a local host.
- Feastly – unique dining events hosted by chefs with exceptional culinary talents – from great home cooks to Michelin stars. The site has not launched in the UK yet, but it’s worth keeping an eye on for the future.
This depends largely on how many people you host and how often you run your pop-up.
However, if you start off by hosting four guests once a month, charging £30 per person (just make sure the price covers your expenses), you could make a pretty decent income on the side.