How to put your restaurant pop-up on the map

It has taken a lot of blood, sweat, tears and countless hours, you’ve got your perfect kitchen space hired and finally, your restaurant pop-up is organised. Now, onto the next challenge: how do you penetrate the hustle and bustle of city life and get people to stop by?

The tech savvy’s first instinct may be Twitter. If you fear the technology revolution you might instead choose a person wearing a sandwich board. Sadly, neither of these approaches work very well on their own.

These are the steps you should be taking:

1. Write a press release

A press release for a pop-up is an official announcement. It informs the media that there is an upcoming, temporary store that may be of interest to them and their audiences. This invites and allows the media to write about your temporary restaurant. You should also aim to email it to a local calendar site.

There are various guides to writing a good press release and the general consensus is to include the five Ws (who, what, why, where and when) of your pop-up. You should also aim to keep it short and to-the-point, giving readers only what they need.

2. Have a presence on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

Rather than going to the biggest social media platform around, you need to decide what is best for your sector. When it comes to the food industry, Instagram and Facebook are a must, with Twitter being the next priority. All other social media platforms take a backseat. If you are wondering why Instagram, two simple words: Food Porn.

Food Porn is, of course, photography. It’s an online trend revolving around food that looks delectable. While you can find images of food on every platform, it’s main concentration is on Instagram. Facebook and Twitter are recommended because they are social media giants that work well for many entrepreneurial projects. While Facebook excels in public use for targeting customers, Twitter excels in connecting to those in your sector as well as clients and potential investors.

You can use these platforms in unison, but you should avoid simply copying and pasting posts across all three platforms. Each can use the same multimedia, but how it is presented differs platform to platform. For example, while Facebook can have a strong, exciting description to go alongside an image, Instagram relies on punchy and powerful titles so as not to overshadow the image itself.

3. Message nearby food bloggers

Find the foodies on Facebook and Instagram that are interested in your cuisine or aesthetic and invite them along for a freebie. Influential members of the social media food and drink scene will have loyal followers that are willing to flock to your pop-up after a well-lit photo.

It isn’t difficult to find them. If your pop-up is in London for example, you can simply Google ‘Top food bloggers in London’ and you already have a semi-reliable list of people you can contact. You can also take advantage of the search features on social media platforms.

When you’ve chosen who you’d like to contact, ensure you keep it personal. Explain why you think they would love your food, and why you would love them to cover it. Bloggers are often far more than hobbyists and put an incredible amount of work into their blog. Ensure you understand this and convey it in your message. Just because you’re willing to give them a free pulled pork open sandwich, doesn’t mean they have to turn up. But if they do, it’s beneficial for both parties, you get exposure and they get fresh content, as well as an opportunity to try some tasty treats.

4. Get in contact with fellow pop-ups

Compared to restaurants that compete with each other for local customers, pop-ups have a friendlier rivalry.

To build a pop-up one needs to have an entrepreneurial spirit. Networking and collaboration are essential elements. Liaise with local producers of ingredients that you will be using, or simply meet other people in the same pop-up boat as you. If you work with local producers with a good social following, ask them to help raise awareness of your pop-up, which in turn raises awareness of their produce.

Whether it is through online messaging, pop-up meet-ups or entrepreneurial events, the best way to stay up to date with the sector is to be a part of it. Aim to build connections, share ideas and collaborate with others in your sector. Eventbrite and MeetUp are must-use tools if you are looking to connect to events and pop-up or entrepreneurial groups in the area.

5. Have a stand out aesthetic

Perhaps one of the most important, yet simple points – how does it look? The fact that pop-ups are temporary means that you rely on random people passing by rather than loyal customers. This is where first impressions have a massive impact.
You may have the most delicious food in the area, but if it doesn’t look good, nobody will find out. This means that either the appearance of the food itself or the way the pop-up is decorated can determine if it succeeds or fails.