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Now for something completely different: How to make your pop-up event run smoothly

Oct, 01 2021
Now for something completely different: How to make your pop-up event run smoothly

Whether you’re talking guest chef residencies, theme nights with a temporary menu, or supper club-style events, pop-ups are incredibly hot right now. All over the Capital, restaurants, pubs, cafes and even retail stores are hosting special dining events, and the trend’s rapidly spreading around the country.

If you’re a restaurant owner who likes to stay on the cutting edge or shake things up now and again, there’s no reason why you can’t jump on the bandwagon and host your own temporary event. And no, it doesn’t need to be a logistical nightmare. Here’s our guide to making your pop-up event run smoothly.

Why host a pop-up event?

Pop-ups take many forms, and these days, the term is commonly used when referring to a restaurant, pub or cafe that’s hosting a temporary dining event. Pubs are hosting pop-ups to help keep their punters fed when they don’t have a permanent chef on board. Some are navigating the current chronic skills shortage by allowing local food trucks, or pizza chefs, for example, to take over their catering at weekends, or offer guest menus for a limited period.

Restaurants are asking up-and-coming on-trend chefs to ‘take over’ parts of their menus, offering experimental and exciting opportunities for their regular customers to try new things. It’s not surprising that East London is the epicentre of the pop-up movement, giving young chefs the opportunity to demonstrate their talents and ideas to a more-than-willing crowd.

Other pop-ups are used to try out something new that might take off. For example, if you have a cafe that opens for breakfast and lunch, but closes in the evening, a pop-up dinner event could help you to judge the appetite for longer opening hours.

What makes a good pop-up event?

Good pop-up events have to run smoothly. If you’re selling tickets, taking bookings and advertising the pop-up as an ‘event’ it’s an opportunity to impress and drum up new business. If you’re hosting a new chef, or welcoming customers who’ve never been to your place before, the last thing you want is for order backlogs to appear and service to suffer.

Great pop-up events run seamlessly, while everyone enjoys a special atmosphere. Feel free to go to town with decorations, drinks, music and all the other little factors that make an event special. Think about your customers and what they would like to see from a pop-up and play to the crowd.

Practical tips for a smooth pop-up

  • Sell as many tickets or book as many tables as is realistically manageable. It’s better to serve a small number and get it spot-on, than risk chaos for a few extra bums on seats.
  • An on-table ordering tool, like Leslie, will allow you to change your menu on a whim, adding items and images at the touch of a button, so they are perfect for regular pop-ups. Also, menu items can be marked as sold-out in real-time. Your temporary menu is like a living, breathing thing, and the tool allows you to adapt it as your event unfolds.
  • Bring in extra staff if you feel it will help your event run. But make sure all the waiting staff know the new menu items inside out and can speak about them confidently. Pop-ups are foodie events and paying customers will want to hear staff speak passionately about the food.
  • Market your event. Make sure it’s talked about on your social media channels and advertised inside and outside your business, Notify the local press about the event or put the word out around your local businesses, schools, Facebook groups and anywhere else your customers lurk when they’re not eating at your restaurant.

If you’re even the slightest bit interested in running a dining event, go for it! And if you’re already a Leslie customer, it will be easy to change up your menu for even a single evening, at no cost and with very little effort on your part. With Leslie you can be truly flexible in your offering, which gives you the freedom to try something different every once in a while!