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Pop up restaurants bars and eateries: re-thinking the culinary space

Written by Klara Vida on 23/06/2015 1:39:00 PM 0 Comment

In this article we look at the concept of the pop-up space, and how restaurateurs are using it to take their business to new places.

With a tendency to sprout overnight, draw in the crowds and quickly pack up, pop-up restaurants, bars and eateries have repackaged the traditional concept of the culinary experience.  

These hot spots attract a food-loving market seeking the latest tapas, street snack or cocktail du jour, and are filling up short term leases fast. 

A new style of eating
Pop-up restaurants and bars are all the trend - Whether you work in the restaurant and hospitality industry or simply love food and embrace new styles of eating, chances are you’ve heard them.  

If you were one of the thousands of Adelaide locals who visited Little Miss Mexico in the trendy East End last year, you would have seen how a temporary space can pull in the crowds and pack down just as quickly as it opened – almost like a collapsible establishment. 

The Mexican-inspired tapas and wine bar specialising in shared delicacies, cocktails and imported beers, took a vacant site and turned it into a colourful and welcoming space.   With the popularity of street-style food and events like the Adelaide Fringe Festival pulling in crowds and creating demand for new venues, the pop-up bar was a success with locals. 

Little Miss Mexico closed its doors last year, but the space quickly evolved into The Crab Shack, a Caribbean-inspired venue serving seafood, sliders and specialty drinks, and is likely to transform into another new concept in the near future.

New concepts with limited timeframes create urgency! 
A common feature of pop-up restaurants, bars and eateries is custom-themed-spaces, artisan menus and specialty drinks and they are often there for a limited time. This creates a sense of urgency and fear of missing out (FOMO!) This helps draw a great new crowd and buzz around your business.

New pop-up locations are often released to exclusive email lists and on social media shortly before they open, where they are tracked and followed by food-loving locals.Check out our article about using social media to promote your venue.

Pop ups form part of your advertising
With temporary consumer spaces filling quickly, the trend is skewing towards choosing pop-up restaurants, bars and eateries in lieu of traditional advertising.  A strategic approach to selling a brand and attracting new customers, a successful pop-up can drive consumers to the official bar or restaurant once it packs up.  

A BRW article recently reported that Salvatore De Luca’s pop-up store in Sydney’s Strand Arcade was no lemonade stand.  The reproduction of De Luca’s Sicilian dessert store in Five Dock, Sydney came with a hefty price tag of $35,000 for two months’ rent, which represented the cost of a traditional digital marketing or social media campaign.  Costs aside, De Luca said the pop-up was a worthwhile exercise (BRW, April 2015).  

When placed in the right high-traffic areas and approached with strategic thinking outside the box, pop-up restaurants, bars and eateries can create stronger results than traditional advertising, ascertain consumer response and capture new customers in targeted locations.

Case study - Magnum pop-up melts consumers
The Magnum pop-up store appeared in locations around the world including Paris, New York and Sydney’s Westfield where ice cream lovers could design their own Magnum with their choice of chocolate and three or four of 18 toppings. 

Served in a customised box at a reasonable price, the eight-week concept saw so much success around the world that it opened up the following spring for a further two consecutive years.  The Magnum pop-up store was a hit which took an existing brand and re-released it to the market in a way that consumers loved – starting conversations, creating publicity and boosting sales.  

While the Magnum pop-up store was about raising sales rather than driving customers to a specific location, it pulled in crowds by serving up an interactive experience.

Pop-ups on a shoestring
While bigger brands like Magnum have the market share to open expensively fitted pop-ups, most can do it on a tighter budget.   With minimalist and industrial-style looks trending around the consumer space, a high-end, polished fit-out isn’t essential, so restaurateurs don’t need to pour big budgets into the setup.

Pop-up stores are booming, but demand outstrips supply
While pop-up stores are trending, be prepared to face some competition when it comes to securing temporary space, especially where vacancies are limited.  The same BRW article reported that while the concept is booming, landlords are prepared to hold out for long-term leases.

Are you paying commissions for listing on restaurant ordering sites like Menulog and Eatnow?

If so, you should read our next article:

Restaurant online ordering - a free system shakes up the industry

A marketer recently featured in BRW has created a free online ordering system for restaurants, calling a bubble on the 8-12 per cent commissions typically charged in the sector.   


Author: Klara Vida
Bartercard National Communications Executive.
Contact Klara via or (+61) 07 5561 9094.

Topics: Website design, Successful restaurant website

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