The Menu – the latest insights on restaurant technology trends, customer successes, and best practices.

How Pop-up Restaurants Boost Sales & Brand Awareness

Ned Rowland
Senior Director F&B Solution Engineering, FBGBU

All restaurateurs want to grow their business, but there are always limitations – real or imagined. Expansion often requires a hefty investment, which just might not be in the cards. And it’s hard to ignore fear: What if it doesn’t pay off?

Which might explain why more and more food and beverage operators are experimenting with an unconventional, yet increasingly popular, approach to boost sales that minimizes cost and risk: Pop-up restaurants.

It’s a concept worth exploring.

As the name implies, pop-up restaurants can be placed just about anywhere and take a variety of formats, ranging from short-term rentals in a shopping mall to tents at special events or collegiate campuses. And a major factor contributing to their growth and viability is advances in restaurant POS systems and hardware. Mobile POS systems – including workstations, touch-screen order tablets and printers – makes it possible for restaurateurs to not only efficiently operate these satellite eateries, but incorporate transactions and critical sales data into their main business in real time.

With advances in technology solving execution challenges, operators can fully capitalize on the business benefits of pop-ups:

  1. It’s a low-risk, low-capital way to test new markets. Pop-up restaurants are an ideal means to gain brand exposure and explore new locations or geographies. And if they are not successful, there are few repercussions. Without permanent structures or expenses, temporary eateries enable operators to fail in the best possible way: cheaply and quickly. In other words, you can easily cut your losses and exit.
  2. It’s a great way to experiment with new menu items. It’s an opportunity for chefs to get creative and prepare new dishes. Successful offerings then can be added to the main restaurant’s menu. And by functioning almost as a standalone test kitchen, pop-ups also can take the criticism for recipes that flop, protecting the restaurant’s reputation.

According to trade publication mobile-cuisine.com, which recently chronicled the growth of pop-up restaurants, temporary eateries also are a big hit with millennials – known for their healthy appetite for culinary novelty and creativity. In addition, mobile-cuisine.com reports that operators can promote pop-up restaurants as “invite-only” events that yield high check averages. The article states, “because… their menus are often unique, customers will pay a premium for the experience.”

But to make these benefits a reality, restaurateurs need to take advantage of technology such as wireless POS hardware, including printers that can operate on their own power supply. It’s essential to be able to conduct transactions offline without internet connection yet have the capability to go back online for centralized reporting. That’s the key to holistically manage everything – from labor and inventory management to food waste – and accurately evaluate pop-ups’ impact and contributions to the overall business.

It’s high-tech magic that can bring together a restaurant and its pop-ups, creating sales-boosting success that’s hardly temporary.

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