Metro Detroit’s Unique Pop-Up Restaurants

Pop Up Restaurants in Detroit

Detroit is home to a diverse population, and that rich diversity is reflected in the area’s restaurants. From a farm to table Airstream in a community garden to Pakistani American fusion cuisine, here are some of the city’s unique dining experiences.

Encourage guests to share their experience with your restaurant by using review management software. This will enable you to respond quickly to feedback and make necessary improvements.

1. Location

There aren’t many limitations on where you can host a pop-up restaurant. You could rent a space from another restaurant during their off hours, use a private home, an apartment complex or even a food truck. The most important thing is that you have an open space that can pass health inspections and adhere to the standards of a restaurant. You will also need a kitchen that’s equipped for cooking operations and cutting tables where you can prepare your dishes before serving them to customers.

The diverse population of metro Detroit is on full display in the area’s unique restaurants. From a vegan food truck to a vintage Airstream used for dinners, these pop-ups are making their mark in the city’s culinary scene.

2. Concept

Depending on the chef’s goals, the concept of the pop-up restaurant can be just as important as the location. For chefs who are experimenting with a new cuisine or concept, a pop-up can provide the opportunity to test out their ideas and build a customer base before they invest in a permanent location.

Other chefs like to use a pop-up as an opportunity to launch their brand and showcase their skills. For example, Detroiter Erin Sabo launched her French pop-up, Les Deux Dachshunds (The Two Dachshunds), in a local coffee shop before opening her brick and mortar.

The city’s diversity is reflected in the variety of pop-up restaurants that have cropped up. From a farm to table Airstream in a community garden to Pakistani American fusion fare, you can find it all in Metro Detroit.

3. Permits

The costs of permits and licensing may not be obvious line items when planning a pop-up restaurant, but they’re essential to your success. Check with your local health department to see what requirements apply. Some examples include water, electric and food handling permits. In addition, some cities require a food service manager certification that can be obtained either through your local health department or a third-party online training provider like ServSafe.

Detroit and its suburbs have embraced the pop-up concept, spawning many regularly hosted events that showcase culinary creativity and serve as a proving ground for future brick-and-mortar restaurants. Here are a few of our favorites.

4. Marketing

As a low-risk venture, pop-up restaurants offer chefs and restaurateurs a way to test out their food and concept. If the restaurant and menu is a hit, it can easily be transitioned into a permanent location.

For example, Side Biscuit, a Detroit-based pop up restaurant that serves chicken wings and biscuits, recently converted to a permanent brick-and-mortar spot. Ricewood, a barbecue restaurant from Windsor, and Basil Babe, a Thai eatery from Ypsilanti, also moved from trucks into dedicated spaces this year.

For diners looking for new and exotic flavors, the Detroit-based pop-up restaurant Sarap offers Filipino cuisine—a vastly underrepresented dish in the city. And for dessert lovers, Blu Kitchen, which specializes in macarons—a sugary sweet that has received little local attention—serves them at various locations while it awaits its own space.

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LA Pop-Up Eateries: From Nigerian cuisine to chicken rice, experience a culinary journey in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Pop-Up Restaurants 2022

The Los Angeles restaurant scene is in bounce-back mode, armed with pre-pandemic learnings yet still facing headwinds. From a funky natural wine bar in a bungalow on Virgil to fried seafood pop-ups that drop menus on Instagram, here’s the scoop.

In East Hollywood, there’s a Sunday-only pop-up called Calabama serving a giant breakfast grilled cheese. Order via Instagram and the sandwich is lowered down to your awaiting arms.

African Chop

African Chop has a broad appeal, drawing crowds of all races and backgrounds. It’s a way for locals to try out Nigerian food and for immigrants to see their cuisine embraced in the community. The tight menu spotlights fluffy jollof rice in four combo plates that also feature judiciously sweet fried plantains and sauteed spinach. Afolabi aims to make his restaurant a regular stop for people looking to learn about African culture and cuisine.

This year has been a reminder that the LA dining scene is resilient, even in the face of serious challenges like labor shortages and inflation. But it’s also been a year of reinvention, with impromptu eateries like Goan pizza shop Quarter Sheets and Shanghai noodle spot Woon turning into permanent restaurants.

Heng Heng Chicken Rice

In the vein of a quick-and-easy fast-food joint, Heng Heng is a one-dish stop serving chicken rice in fried, boiled and mixed styles. It’s a popular option for locals, and seating is limited so you may have to wait.

A shady patio, good coffee and countercultural messaging make Braindead the go-to destination for fashion hypebeasts during the week, but come weekends, this Fairfax studio is flooded with food hypebeasts looking to sample from the best pop-ups in town. Look out for a new seasonal cocktail menu, too.

There are few things more exciting than watching a breakfast sandwich get lowered in a bucket from the fourth floor of an East Hollywood apartment. Calabama is a Sunday-only pop-up from the chefs behind Sara’s Market in City Terrace.


The tucked-away backyard of this Echo Park spot is perfect for a beer, a snack and some conversation. It’s also the setting for a weekly pop-up restaurant, which showcases the talents of local food entrepreneurs. Expect dishes like fried chicken wings, Korean-style short ribs and garlic shrimp over java rice.

At this roving wine bar in a bungalow on Virgil Ave, diners get to sample the latest vintage from around the world, while also enjoying the eclectic cuisine of chefs who specialize in their regions. Look for Mexican-Jewish hybrids at Malli, or a West African feast at chef Tolu Erogbogbo’s Ile, where spices are imported from Nigerian villages.

Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, this holiday pop-up is the place to be. You’ll find seasonal eats and drinks like the Miracle on Melrose, a boozy treat made with cognac, amaro, St. George pear liqueur and baking spices.


For a couple of years, chef Cara Haltiwanger has been serving up her eggy toasty cheesy breakfast sandwiches with homemade hot sauce at coffee bars and restaurants like Dayglow and the Friend in Silver Lake. But after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she started to find it hard to make her weekend-only pop-up work.

So she came up with a solution that was as novel as it was clever. Since March of 2022, she’s been dropping her sandwiches off her apartment building’s fire escape using a bucket and rope to eager customers—and now, it’s time for her to retire the red bucket. She’ll keep doing her pop-ups, but now she’ll also be bottling and selling her bespoke hot sauce. Check out KTLA’s Your Very Own Story to learn more.


The wildly popular TikTok star has teamed up with LA-based jewelry brand Lily & Co to launch a pop-up featuring exclusive merch. Fans can get their hands on dainty gold pieces made from 95% recycled 14k gold.

The Arts District spot is dedicated to modern Desi street food, with flaky lachha paratha rolls and wagyu beef kabab platters on the menu. Co-owner Asim Bharwani says he and his family developed their concept to share the cultural foods of their Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage with Angelenos.

Korean chef Jihee Kim pulls inspiration from the farmers’ markets at her tiny kitchen in Koreatown with banchan like corn crab salad and fermented carrot in ginger and mandarin zest. Meanwhile, chefs at Malli in East Hollywood combine Mexican and Jewish cuisines with a menu of dishes like pastrami tacos.

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Hosting a Pop Up Dinner Party: Tips for Success

How to Host a Pop Up Dinner Party

Unlike their brick and mortar counterparts, pop up dinners cater to a niche audience. They are ephemeral and intimate, which creates an emotional connection with diners.

Similar to restaurants, pop ups must have proper restaurant documentation in order to avoid fines and fees. This includes licensing and permits, which varies by state.


The location of your pop-up dinner party is an important part of the planning process. Make sure that it has sufficient space for the number of people you expect to attend, and meets all of the food safety guidelines required by your municipality.

Talented creative chefs with little financial backing can use a pop-up restaurant to build their brand and establish a presence, while existing restaurateurs can test a new concept with limited risks. The popular Diner en Blanc, for example, is returning to NYC this September after a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keeping the location of the event a secret until just before it starts is an effective way to generate excitement and anticipation amongst guests. You can also use social media to promote the event.


Decide if your pop up dinner will have a theme; this can influence your menu, decor and drinks list. For example, a South American influence could lead to Peruvian ceviche and Pisco sours served in a sheltered spot at the beach dressed with Inca inspired vibrant colours and baby succulents.

You can also host a sushi night where you ask everyone to make their favourite roll potluck style. Set out some bamboo rolling mats and some Nori seaweed sheets and enjoy the feast!

Or you can host a Masquerade theme dinner where guests wear masks, play games like “name that Vampire” and enjoy a blood red decor palette. You can even add fun witchcraft items such as crystals, sage smudge sticks and spell books for a magical feel! Get details on this enchanting party HERE.


Once the location and theme are decided it is time to start thinking about the menu. This can be tricky since pop ups often have limited kitchen equipment and space to store ingredients. It is a good idea to limit the menu and focus on dishes that are easy to plate up.

For example, if you are planning to have South American influence you can serve Peruvian ceviche and pisco sours or Cinnamon sugar churros. You can also dress the tables with Inca inspired vibrant colors and baby succulents to give your guests a taste of South America in their backyard.

On a recent Sunday, Stephanie Bonnin, a chef from Colombia, converted her railroad apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn into an impromptu dining room for 20 of her friends. This was a one-off dinner party that doubled as an informal culinary seminar and intimate anthropology.


There’s something universal about a dinner party: a group of strangers seated around a table, clinking glasses and reminiscing over food. It’s a time to connect, inspire, uplift, or just enjoy each other’s company.

Whether it’s a chef trying out new recipes or an opportunity to lure investors for their next project, pop-up restaurants are popping up all over the country. One of the most popular is Dinner Lab, which offers members a one-of-a-kind experience for an annual fee.

At Further Food Stuff, a pop-up from chefs Dan Amighi and Patrick Gaggiano, the duo aims for a balance of professionalism and spontaneity. To do so, they limit the number of guests to 25, so each can get individualized attention. They also keep the menu simple and use a lot of local produce and wine.


If you’re hosting a dinner, make sure your staff is properly trained to serve guests. They will be the face of your brand, and you’ll want them to be courteous and attentive to create a positive experience for your guests.

Advertise your pop up restaurant with posters and social media posts. This is the cheapest way to market your event and let potential customers know what you’re offering.

The rise of pop-up restaurants is creating opportunities for chefs who want to showcase their skills without the financial burdens of a brick and mortar location. It also allows them to test new concepts without the risk of losing money. If the pop-up restaurant finds success, it can even become a permanent eatery! That’s a win for everyone involved.

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The Cost of Opening a Pop-Up Restaurant

How Much Does a Pop Up Restaurant Cost?

A pop up restaurant can cost a lot to open. Furnishing and decor can quickly add up, especially in cities where rent and labor costs are high.

Other costs include licensing and permits. Depending on where you’re located, this may include outdoor dining, food vendor, building health and sales tax permits.

Costs of Equipment and Supplies

A pop-up restaurant is typically open for a short period of time (ranging from one night to a few weeks or months). This type of dining establishment is designed to create excitement and exclusivity among diners.

To operate a pop-up restaurant, you will need to have several supplies on hand. This includes cooking appliances, dining ware and storage containers for food and supplies. Depending on the location, you may also need to rent tables, chairs or booths.

Another essential item for a pop-up restaurant is a cash register. Purchasing a cash register can be expensive, but there are some ways to cut the cost. Purchasing used or pre-owned cash registers can help reduce the price.

Another important aspect of operating a pop-up restaurant is obtaining the necessary permits and licenses. This can be challenging, but it is crucial to comply with the law. In addition, it is a good idea to develop an effective promotional strategy to increase awareness of your business.

Rent or Buy

A pop-up restaurant is typically temporary. It can be operated out of a private home, a converted warehouse or existing restaurants. It can even be set up during a festival or event. Some chefs and entrepreneurs use it to test their concepts or new menus. McDonald’s famously ran a one-day luxury pop-up restaurant with butler service, a string quartet and silver cutlery as a marketing stunt.

Pop-up restaurants tend to offer cutting-edge cuisines, unique concepts and buffets or prix fixe meals. They attract young people who enjoy trying different dining experiences and may have a lot of disposable income. Middle-aged and elderly people in particularly well-off neighborhoods round out the customer base.

When planning your pop-up restaurant, you will need to purchase insurance and obtain the proper permits and licenses. This can be a significant expense for your business. The amount you will need to pay can vary depending on your location and the duration of your pop-up restaurant.


A pop-up restaurant needs only a small crew of employees to operate. It can also be a way for restaurateurs to test their ideas before investing in permanent space.

Depending on the location, kitchen equipment, supplies and marketing costs can add up to a significant sum. However, if you search classifieds and secondhand websites for bargains, your operating expenses will be much lower.

When hiring employees, be sure to hire people who are passionate about food and willing to work in a short-term environment. Be up front about the nature of the job and what it might entail when interviewing them. This will help ensure that you get the best talent for your restaurant. A well-trained staff can make the difference between a successful pop up and a failure. It can also save you money on employee training and payroll taxes. You might want to consider partnering with culinary schools or vocational programs as a way of finding talented candidates.


To attract customers, your pop-up restaurant needs to have a marketing strategy. This could include social media promotions, online advertising, or partnering with local businesses to promote your event.

Having a unique and creative menu is also essential to the success of your pop-up restaurant. It can draw in new audiences and generate more buzz. Plus, it can be a great way to test out an idea for a permanent restaurant concept.

Pop-up restaurants can be a low commitment way to see if you have what it takes for the restaurant business before you risk your home or quit your day job. The key is to be well prepared and understand the costs involved. That means drafting a restaurant business plan including a marketing and financial projections. Then you can start a pop-up with confidence.

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