Five Best Practices For Pop-Up Restaurants
Creole Creed's One & a Half Month Residency at Plum Cocktail Bar | Key Insights
Creole Creed's residency at the Plum Cocktail Bar in Oakland, was extremely learning-intensive. The popup was a moment of firsts: the first opportunity that Creole Creed landed as an officially incorporated business, and the first popup extended to an outside food vendor at the Plum Cocktail Bar. We compiled a quick list of insights for others thinking about getting into the popup scene. This is definitely not an exhaustive list, and we plan on updating our blog to share more of our learnings in the field and in the kitchen.
1. Be Legally Covered & Clear
The first day that we operated out of the Plum Bar, the Environmental Health Department already had plans to shut us down. Our month-long residency was followed by the county’s crackdown on popups in Oakland. When we arrived at the Plum’s kitchen, we were new to ongoing issues with businesses taking advantage of permits, insurances, and other costly legal requirements that make running a food business in California a more than challenging feat. While Creole Creed was legally “clear,” as contracted entity to the Daniel Patterson Group, our team was not as clear as how we would be operating in our new venue. The experience is a lot like walking into someone’s home, and taking over their kitchen to cook dinner in. There are people who are territorial about their space, others who are messy, and some who extremely organized and particular. If we could do the experience over again, we would have gotten more clear about the kind of relationship we wanted with Plum Bar, and how it could have been more mutually beneficial, equal, and inclusive.
2. Have All Hands, Good Hands On Deck
A family-owned company, Creole Creed is compromised of mom-executive chef, Tekia, and daughter-creative director-sous chef, Queen. Together we make four hands. That is not enough when the demand was so high, we were selling upward of 150 lbs of our famous chicken wings, on Tuesday nights.
3. Get More Efficient with Time & COGs
There is nothing easy or quick about Creole cuisine. Most of our dishes take the full day to reach the quality and richness of our ancestors. Thus, working under a business model that requires time efficiency, and a relatively low cost-of-goods percentage of at most 30% of the ROI makes sales a tricky puzzle to solve. The challenge of time efficiency, and costs, are something that even the customers feel and sense. As a team, we were very cognizant of the time that we spent on prepping, batching, and serving our food. When we serve our Creedies, we think of the type of experience we would want to have. As a result, prices are marked to fairly cover costs and pay for labor, while also championing the investment and support placed in the patronage of our business.
4. Listen to Your Gut
Running a popup for the first time was nothing short of easy. While we became a popular offering in Downtown Oakland, and the greater Bay Area, there were nights where we should have shortened our menu, or skipped food service altogether. There were nights where the line cooks didn’t show, servers called out during their shifts, and dishwashers were unavailable to provide clean dishes during a traffic-heavy food service. In these moments, we needed to rely on our intuition to help navigate how we would approach service. The most important part of this tip, however, is that while listening to your gut is very important, it is just as equally important to properly communicate the direction with your team and your customers.
5. Listen & Follow Up with Your Supporters
The Plum Bar experience afforded Creole Creed a host of supporters who continue to stay in touch and call us to this day. We are so grateful for the people who love our food, because we put the same love we have for each other, into every part of the food preparation. After the popup, we had to take some time to develop our thoughts, heal from the traumas of the challenges we faced, and develop our catering clientele. We are very grateful to still connect with our Creedies. Our goal is to continue cooking, sharing, feeding, and communing under the belief that family, love, and healing is a combination that can sustain a nation.
Hi Creedies! We receive at least five phone calls from you a day. In an effort to stay connected, and keep you in the loop of our progress, we will regularly update our blog’s site and social media channels. We want to thank you for your support, patience, and especially your understanding as we grow our family business into a reality beyond our dreams.