10 Creative Pop-up Themes for Your Foodservice Operation

It can sometimes be intimidating when considering the near-infinite options that a pop-up can provide. Here are 10 ideas to get your juices flowing:

Category One: Familiar Themes

The first category contains themes that reinforce known ideas, rather than request customers to learn new ones. These reach your customers where they are, both enhancing and celebrating what they already value.

  1. Feature Local Agriculture
    Chances are, there are local farms around that provide nutritious and delicious meat and produce. Giving them a platform to shine only reinforces the value of your operation’s location and opens your operation up to being an active part of the local community.
  2. Hyper-local
    Many operations are beginning to grow or create certain items in their very own facility. Whether leafy greens, honey, house-made pickles or something specific to your area, here is your opportunity to get your customers to taste what you have grown. They will appreciate you even more, knowing that they cannot get it anywhere else.
  3. Regional Favorites/Comfort Foods
    I am looking at you, poutine! Celebrating local pride can get you nothing but appreciation. Perhaps you can reproduce a local favorite, or import an out-of-town customer-base’s favorite dish. On the other hand, just like Mama used to make. Comfort foods are not necessarily “everyday” foods, but sometimes people want a nostalgic taste of home.
  4. Community-created
    This one might apply to educational facilities more than others might. Especially if you have a culinary school! A community-created pop-up can show off the skills of people who are usually customers. In addition, the rest of your customers already know who they are!
  5. Feature a Local or Celebrity Chef
    Use their name recognition to draw in new customers and delight your already loyal fans.
  6. Seasonal/Holiday Themes
    Food reinforces social interaction. Bring people together with the food that makes it that much better! Specialty and seasonal foods evoke feelings of joy, create and introduce new themes. promote this ahead of time (or make it a regular feature), and you can get one existing customer to bring new ones!

Category Two: Unfamiliar Themes

These themes challenge expectations, introduce something new, or are experimental. Not everyone likes new things, but you might be surprised how much enthusiasm you might generate7

      7.  Featured International Cuisine
           There are as many food cultures as there are cultures, and all of them have something new and fun to offer.

     8.  Current Fads or Upcoming Trends
           Is this worthy of trend status? On the other hand, is it just a fad? With a pop-up, it does not matter. It is only around temporarily, and it might delight your customers as nothing else can.

           Capitalize on the fusion craze; Kimchi Tacos. Texas Barbecue Bahn Mi. Indian mac-and-cheese. Food trucks do this kind of thing all the time, to great success. You can go crazy with this
one, and give your staff a chance to be creative.

      9. Dietary Restrictions
           Really? You have never had a meal that was entirely gluten-free. Try this; it’s delicious. Certain people will not even try a special diet; perhaps it is time to take the stigma off of them.

    10.  Unique Experiences
           Here is your chance to collaborate with other departments in the creation of a brand-new experience for your customers.   This is by no means an exhaustive list. It might go forever… we
have not found the end of it, at least.

While pop-ups might be ubiquitous in certain areas of the country, we hope that you can see how they can be repurposed to reflect and enhance your operation and help you to serve your customers better.

If you have questions about how your operation might establish a pop-up program, swing by the Multiteria booth#630 at NACAS this year. We would love to help you plan!