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Startup 06 Mar 2014

Pop-up restaurants: Up, serve & win

Pop-up restaurants allow new products to gain exposure in a rapidly changing market with very low risk attached.

By Nusra Deputy Features Editor

The concept of pop-up restaurant is being introduced in India lately only in specific cities like Mumbai and Delhi. Pop-ups are generally micro-events that are put up at temporary venues, setting up a moving kitchen and a different food experience for customers. A pop-up restaurant offers the same benefits as compared to any other restaurant excluding the investment of opening a standalone restaurant. Many chefs use pop ups as a way to expand their culinary careers, while others use pop ups as a way to level the dining field, offering gourmet food at affordable prices.

The concept

Pop-up restaurants bring a fresh experience to a new market for a short span of time. In this type of formats, guests sample the cuisines, setting, service, etc. Pop-up restaurants are also a new way for restaurateurs to test out a product on a new market with a very low investment.

Recently in January, famous restaurant brand Diva by Chef Ritu Dalmia has organised a pop-up restaurant in Mumbai at an offbeat location that was first of its kind initiative for the city. AD Singh promoted Olive Bar & Kitchen has also organised such pop-up restaurants first in Delhi and then in Mumbai. Their Thalassa pop-up restaurant was very different from the product offered at the traditional restaurant.

A pop-up restaurant can be organised anywhere, at an existing restaurant location or can be presented like an event at shop or vacant place.

Kitchen designing

The heart of any restaurant is the kitchen, and the kitchen at a pop-up restaurant is mobile depending on the space available at the current setup. Much like catering, a pop-up restaurant offers you a chance to learn the skills of knowing when and where to prepare and serve the food. It is a great way to see if you truly enjoy the hospitality industry enough to take the leap of opening your own restaurant. Sachin Dhoka, Owner, Firangi Tadka, Pune, says, “A pop-up restaurant is the new trend in the Indian F&B industry. I think the pop-up restaurant is a way to promote your existing restaurant that lasts for two-three days.”

Target customers

The target customers vary from place to place depending on the demography and the types of food served at the pop-up restaurant.

For the Thalassa pop-up restaurant, the target market was much broader and different from the market targeted via their standalone restaurant. The original outpost of Thalassa in Goa caters to a wide variety of demographics from families and honeymooners to rich teenagers from all over India. Being based in Goa, Thalassa has this entire spectrum of people throughout the week-end regardless of the season.

Ramesh Gupta, F&B Manager, Meluha The Fern Group of Hotels, says, “Today, people want to experiment, a single concept doesn’t work for longer time, and that’s why, restaurants have started the pop-up shows or the micro events that are put up at temporary venues, for a few hours or few weeks where people collect as many experiences as possible.

Operational strategy

Pop-up restaurant is mostly marketed through Facebook, Twitter, blogs and various other mediums of communication. Chaayos also organised pop-up restaurant concepts at various corporates including Cairn Energy, American Express and Accenture. From the cafe's point of view, a pop-up restaurant gives a chance to get relevant feedback and represents the brand in a different setting. Most such concepts also have samplers and discounts, which keep the customer coming back for more.

Pricing

For a pop-up restaurant, the pricing is similar to the original outpost of the restaurant as well as the restaurant the pop up is taking place in. The restaurateurs and the chef consider the current prices of ingredients and labour cost involved in the setup.

Raghav Verma, Co-owner, Chaayos, a cafe serving chai, explains, “For the Chaayos setup, we ensure everything is very modular, so that we can easily setup and dismantle it. In our experience, these turn out to be easy to execute with significant potential for a high visitor turnout.”

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