Hosting a pop-up restaurant event is a way café owners can try out edible options. These one-and-done special events provide food without committing to a set menu. Many café owners find it daunting to decide which foods pair best with the drinks they serve, but they also know that a solid menu will generate profit.
Guilder is a Scandinavian-inspired coffee shop in Portland, Oregon, that has hosted two pop-ups, both featuring pizza, with rousing success. The first event, “The Princess Bride Pizza Party,” was a collaboration between Guilder, GSMP (The Great & Secret Motion Pizza), and Coffee Beer.
Guilder co-owner Caryn Nelson says pop-ups are an “opportunity for creativity and experimentation, allowing for new customers to experience a space, and creating a fun party-like atmosphere for attendees.”
Pop-ups are a way to network and build mutually beneficial relationships with other businesses in your surrounding community. Nelson was inspired to host a pop-up at Guilder when she attended a GMSP pop-up at Coffee Beer and was “blown away with their deliciousness.”
For cafés still fine-tuning their food menu or looking to expand edible options, pop-ups are an opportunity to try out dishes and see what customers are interested in eating.
Cafés with set food menus can also benefit from hosting pop-ups, because of the variety they provide. Guilder typically offers a Scandinavian-inspired food menu featuring specialty porridge and toast. Nelson says, “We don’t offer pizza on our regular food menu, so it is a fun and easy way to switch it up a bit.”
Flexibility is another benefit of hosting pop-up events. Café owners can take advantage of certain times of day when customers may be more interested in sitting down for a meal than just a solo beverage. Nelson says, “We have some flexibility with our closing time, so dinner pop-ups make the most sense for our space because it would otherwise be vacant after 7 p.m.”
Pop-ups also offer an element of surprise, and their inherent sense of specialness is an effective tool for attracting customers. The “get it before it’s gone” mentality associated with pop-ups generates excitement and interest.
Pop-ups are fun opportunities to make connections with other businesses in your community, and expand the scope of your café’s food offerings.