The World of Pop Ups

The World of Pop Ups

As many of you know I am launching my all-day brunch concept in the New Year and the best way to get started and test my ideas and concept without committing to any long leases are POP UPS.

So I researched a bit…

I have been to a number of pop up events ranging from fine dining to back-to-the-roots suppers in a tipi tent.

But what is actually a pop up?

Pop ups can be anything, anywhere and anytime (i.e. pop up markets, cinemas, fairs, cocktail bars, shops, etc). By my definition, pop ups use empty or under-used spaces, are temporary with clear start and end dates, can be easily dissembled and transferred to a different site and are in some way special and exciting.

Pop up restaurants or supper clubs typically mix food, art, design and/or entertainment to create very special dining experiences around a theme. They can be operated anywhere, whether in your own home, in an old tube wagon, factories, under water, in a prison, the list is endless.

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The world of pop up restaurants is diverse, playful and adventurous. They attract the explorers and experience seekers, those who want to get to know new people and mingle. If you prefer to go to the same place every time because the Spaghetti Bolognese is so good, this might just not be your thing I am afraid.

The beginnings

Although pop up restaurants have been around for a long time, I’d say the first mainstream supper club idea came up with the appearance of ’Come dine with me’ in 2005. The TV show encouraged hobby chefs to entertain and share their passion with like-minded foodies – friends, family and strangers – from their own home. Brilliant!


Since then, a lot has happened and the pop up market has gained momentum. With the emergence and increased use of social media, pop ups found a perfect platform to create fellowship and bring themselves out there. There was no holding back anymore when the idea of crowd funding was launched that offered the short-term capital needed to fund start-up costs.

Notable entrepreneurs, chefs, and restaurateurs have also started to open pop-up restaurants now and I am going to try my luck too! 😉


Business Model

One of the defining differences between a pop-up and a more conventional restaurant is permanence. Generally, pop ups move around and are used to test new ideas. In terms of space and rents, from a freeholder point of view it is riskier to offer premises on a short-term lease than on a long-term lease. Hence, to mitigate financial risk, rents are typically higher for pop ups over a given period of time than for businesses on long leases. But this is nothing new and other examples include mobile phone contracts (18 months vs 24 months) and energy contracts (12 months vs 36 months).

For a pop up it does not always make financial sense to fit out a whole new space from scratch for just a few months. Therefore, a secondary market has been created – a rental market for pop up spaces. Many existing bars and restaurants offer residencies and restaurant owners more and more realise that they can generate additional revenues by hosting pop ups, which create publicity at the same time.

A good website to look for pop up spaces include ‘We are pop up’ and ‘Appear Here . And if you want to advertise your pop up events, there are plenty of options including Grub Club and  ‘London Pop Ups’.

Location location location

For me personally location is important but not a determining factor of whether I should go or not. I am quite happy to travel the extra mile for something exciting off the beaten track. However, I think the location needs to be in line with the concept and close to the target market. The location should really resemble who you are, what your concept and food is all about and what message you want to convey to your target audience.


But the nice things is, there do not seem to be any rules when it comes to pop ups.

Creativity is what is possible, not what is right!

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