Breaking Into the Pop-Up Restaurant Business

Pop-up stores have become a multifaceted tool, used by restaurateurs for everything from breaking into the market to re-energizing existing brands. A look at three different approaches:

Deli Gets Off the Ground

Leo Beckerman and Evan Bloom opened up a pop-up version of their classic Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen in January 2011. Its success helped pave the way to a fixed location that opened last month.

Until recently, Jewish deli food was hard to come by in San Francisco’s foodie scene. But after launching a pop-up restaurant to test the concept, brand, and audience, Wise Sons deli won the confidence of investors and gained the experience it needed to open a permanent location.

Before starting the pop-up, the industry novices practiced, making about 20 batches of pastrami at home, brining beef brisket for a week, rubbing it with spices and smoking it in Mr. Beckerman’s home smoker.

Running the pop-up cost between $2,000 and $2,500 a week, which they funded themselves. Costs included about $500 a week for space in a commissary kitchen and $175 to $400 for rent at cafes and an outdoor space they used for their roving pop-up.

The once-a-week pop-up, which typically served 300 to 400 people, just broke even. A disadvantage, Mr. Beckerman said, is the fact that leftover food couldn’t be resold the following day. “We ate a lot of Jewish deli food,” he said.

The success of the pop-up helped convince friends and family to collectively invest $100,000 toward the fixed location in San Francisco’s Mission District. The partners put in an equivalent amount from their own savings.

Montreal-Style Bagels Secures a Business Loan

Inspired by the success of the Wise Sons pop-up, chef Blake Joffe and partner Amy Remsen began selling the Wise Sons partners Montreal-style bagels, which are sweeter and smaller than typical New York bagels. The pop-up experience helped Beauty’s Bagel Shop secure a loan for a new bakery and cafe in Oakland, Calif., which is slated to open this spring.

Mr. Joffe apprenticed for a week in a Montreal bagel shop, where he learned to slice and hand-roll 75 pounds of dough at a time.

The partners applied for a small business loan from the Oakland Business Development Corporation to finance a fixed location. Scott Lewis, the director of Business Development, recommended them for a $165,000 loan. Without the experience and market-testing the pop-up provided, “it would have been hard to do a deal like this,” Mr. Lewis said.

In late April, Beauty’s Bagels plans to open in a 2,400 square foot facility that can produce daily 3,000 bagels, which it plans to sell for $1.25 each.

Restaurateur Taps
A Young Audience

Faced with a temporarily empty restaurant space in late 2010, experienced restaurateur Bill Chait created a rotating schedule of pop-ups with some of the city’s top chefs that he calls “The Test Kitchen.”

Creativity flowered within the narrow framework: Mr. Chait gave chefs 30% of projected revenue for ingredients, allowing them to pocket any savings. Another 25% of the evening’s take went toward a salary for the chef and any assistants. Mr. Chait provided a dishwasher, bartender and host chef, who showed guests how the kitchen worked.

Chefs served prix fixe meals to between 175 and 200 guests a night, at between $45 and $80 a meal per person.

Test Kitchen generated press, buzz and a mailing list of young, social-media oriented diners who have energized Mr. Chait’s restaurants, he said. He plans to reopen Test Kitchen for a month this fall.

Published at WSJ.com

About Los Sabores de Mexico

Company Overview: At Flavors of Mexican Cuisine, we believe that the best way to experiment Mexico is through its dishes, its people, and its history and live from the places of origin. We offer culinary advice for events, people or enterprises, as well as menu consulting and public relationships for the culinary industry. We also are online media with our platforms where experts all around the globe collaborate with us with their point of views, articles and editorials about the whole experience of the culinary world.. Mission: As truly passionate people as we are of our country and its gastronomy, we want to share with the entire world the unforgettable experience on what Mexico becomes through experimenting the culture and the flavors. Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/flavorsofmexicancuisine
This entry was posted in Articles and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s