How to open a pop-up restaurant
Considerations when opening a short-term pop-up restaurant in Northern Ireland and where to go for more help and advice
Setting up and running a pop-up restaurant involves all the food safety and hygiene issues associated with any other form of food business. The challenge for a pop-up restaurant is to implement all the necessary processes and protections to get trading within a short period.
Points to consider include:
1. Style of restaurant
When opening a pop-up restaurant, consideration needs to be given to the style of food you'll be serving, and linked to this is the style and 'theme' of the restaurant you wish to operate. Many pop-up restaurants concentrate on providing good fresh, local produce to attract both regular local restaurant patrons, and tourists wanting to sample the best of Northern Ireland.
Alternatively, you may wish to exploit a gap in the local market - is there a lack of restaurants serving food of a particular country, continent or style? It is important to consider at least some basic market research to see if a gap exists.
2. Finding the right location
A major challenge of a starting a pop-up restaurant is finding appropriate premises. You may need to adapt premises to the needs of your business and this may require planning permission - if in doubt you should contact the Planning Service.
When you are taking your first steps to open a pop-up restaurant, contact your local district council environmental health team for general advice - see local council contact details in Northern Ireland.
You can also use our property finder tool to search for commercial property in Northern Ireland or find out about the services offered by the Invest NI Property Solutions Unit.
3. Safe catering
Your new pop-up restaurant may only plan to trade for a set period, and you'll want to open as soon as possible to begin trading. However there are no shortcuts when it comes to food safety standards. Food premises in Northern Ireland are required to register and apply for approval with their local district council at least 28 days before opening. Find application forms and guidance from your local council by searching for your licence and compliance requirements.
Food business operators must comply with general food law and food hygiene legislation - see food safety and hygiene.
4. Workplace health and safety
Food businesses must ensure food is stored correctly to comply with food hygiene requirements. This involves providing clean storage areas, the correct equipment for refrigeration and effective monitoring and control of temperatures, and effective training for staff who handle food. See hygiene for food businesses.
For further information on health and safety issues you must consider when setting up a pop-up restaurant, see what you need to do about health and safety.