There is definitely a lot of hype on the Pop-Up restaurant these days. It’s quite remarkable, really. In a nutshell, a restaurateur finds a temporary home in an existing restaurant space to try out their concept and showcase their culinary skills. If the concept doesn’t draw the crowds – well, then you close and maybe even try again. The nice thing about the pop-up game, however, is that you get to keep your shirt if you lose.
The most well-known Mission Pop-Ups today are Radio Africa, Mission Street Food, and our boys at Wise Sons Deli. However, the East Bay has gotten in the game with Guerilla Cafe and Local 123, both in Berkeley. These businesses all share one common thought – they are aware of the amount of money that can be saved and the lessons that can be learned by entering the restaurant business through the Pop-Up location.
Considering that many losses are incurred as a result of high food costs, labor costs, and rent, the idea of having a trial run through a Pop-Up is actually kinda brilliant. By having a fully equipped place to work, the operator and/or chef can focus on recipe development instead of choosing paint colors and glassware (how many mason jars can you drink out of, anyway…). They can monitor food costs on a smaller scale before preparing their menu for the larger business, and they can learn how to efficiently staff their operation. Most of all, they are not committed to the high restaurant rents as seen through the City, nor are they committed to a location or the lease that goes along with it.
There are several great articles written on the subject. I would recommend the recent SF Chron article from food writer Tara Duggan – here. She deftly analyzes the business side of the fad as opposed to the mere fashion.
It looks as though the Pop-Up restaurant works for everyone…..oh, except the City. Will be interesting to see how the local governments will find new ways to profit if this concept continues to take off.
Commercial Real Estate Brokers / San Francisco CA