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Pop-Ups Continue to Trend, with Netflix Entering the Pop-Up Restaurant Business

Netflix is bringing its culinary shows and most popular chefs and drink masters to life. On June 30, their Los Angeles pop-up restaurant, Netflix Bites, will offer guests an experience to remember, immersing themselves in their favorite food shows by experiencing the meals and meeting the famous chefs.

Some chefs and mixologists that will be onsite include “Iron Chefs,” Curtis Stone, Andrew Zimmern, Dominique Crenn, and Ming Tsai. From “Chef’s Table,” fans will meet Rodney Scott and Ann Kim. Custom drinks will be created by many of the mixologists from “Drink Masters.”

While we can’t all create pop-ups featuring chefs and mixologists of TV star fame, we can get in on the trend. These here-today-gone-tomorrow restaurants provide those in the industry with numerous benefits and few risks. 

Let’s explore the latest trends in the world of pop-ups.

The Benefits & Draw of Pop-Up Restaurants

Pop-up restaurants are one of the most popular restaurant concept trends. Why? It’s a combination of stellar chefs rising to the occasion and the perfect storm created by labor woes and higher costs. They allow operators and owners to test a new concept without putting their financial empire on the line. They give chefs the freedom to create unhindered by typical constraints, experiment with their favorite flavors and unique products, and test consumers’ reactions. 

And their guests are drawn to the short-term appeal—experiencing some of the best culinary talents for a limited time. Some pop-ups last only one night, while others are open for months. Some of the best ones go on to brick-and-mortar fame.

Pop-Up Restaurants Reaching Brick-and-Mortar Status

Here are just a few of the many pop-up restaurants that now cater to their fans permanently.

Budsi’s Authentic Thai started on the sidewalk outside Pal’s, a Bayou St. watering hole in New Orleans. From there, it grew, or at least, the lines grew, eventually snaking their way around the block. Jared and Budsaba Mason knew it was time, and the brick-and-mortar location was born.

And that’s the general tale of pop-ups gone permanent. A few others to make the transformation are Street Disco in Portland and Corima in New York. Corima has plans for its first full-time location after Chef Caballero shared his inspired cuisine from Mexico’s northern region in far-off places like Paris and Mexico before landing in New York.

Noted as the “first-ever Italian ramen shop combining Japanese and Italian cuisines,” pastaRAMEN gained a cult following as pop-ups in Seattle, Los Angeles, Miami, and Jersey City. It found its permanent home in Montclair, New Jersey. 

Summer’s Popular Pop-Ups

Portland, OR, has long been considered the “Foodie Capital” of the country. As such, it stakes its claim to some of the most unique pop-ups in the nation. 

  • Can Bar: Combine low-intervention wines (natural wine produced with minimal intervention from the winemaker), canned cocktails, and 50 different types of canned seafood, and you have Can Bar. 
  • Tocayo: Everything is better on a rooftop, which this pop-up taqueria proves. On the roof of Palomar, you’ll find a unique blend of Mexican and Cuban food served with frozen guava margaritas. 

In Los Angeles, nearly every culture proudly serves its cuisine somewhere. And pop-ups are some of the best places to find this authentic experience. 

  • Sour Cherry: This pop-up celebrates Transylvanian dining and the chefs’ Romanian and Hungarian roots. Chefs Anca Caliman and Eden Batki created a five-course prix fixe menu.
  • Sofreh: Have you considered using pop-ups to promote your cookbook? Chef Nasim Alikhani, a James Beard award-finalist and author of Sofreh: A Contemporary Approach to Classic Persian Cuisine, has. Her Brooklyn-based restaurant, Sofreh, is popping up in Los Angeles.

The Makings of a Great Pop-Up

You’ll find a common theme when you ask those who have found success in this arena to share their secrets—the concept. If you’ve noticed, all these concepts are unique, with much venturing back to their childhood fare. The food may be from a specific region or prepared differently, but some element makes them stand out. 

Next on the list are the location and the promotional strategy. The best way to inform people of your whereabouts includes developing a social media presence, engaging in email marketing, and contacting the media. 

Then, test out the food, location, and foot traffic. Sites that draw in the crowds can also draw in the investors. 

Latest Food Service Numbers

While we’re a little off-topic, we couldn’t resist sharing the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. Advanced estimates of food services and drinking places for May 2023 were up about 8% from May 2022. April also saw a rebound, with food services and drinking places up 9.4% compared to the previous year. Now, that’s something to toast to.  

FAQS

Do pop-up restaurants make money?

Popular pop-up restaurants can make money. Many serve a prix fixe menu, setting a specific charge per person. So, if you serve 45 people and charge $150, you’ve generated about $6,750. With the low overhead costs associated with a pop-up, it’s possible to turn a profit in just one night.

How do you attract people to pop-ups?

A few essential considerations include choosing the right location and using creative marketing techniques. Also, make sure someone understands social media, as it’s one of the best strategies for getting the word out. Create a website, use email, and consider special events.

*Image Courtesy of Google Images

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