Pop up restaurants are incredibly popular at the moment, and the appeal of pop-ups - for chefs and restaurateurs - is the overheads are much lower than for traditional restaurants, catering businesses or food trucks.
Some people have pop ups in surprising locations like a London flat, or a former business where a Michelin starred chef is testing out a new menu for twenty three diners for a gap year, or a house hosting a Marie-Antoinette themed supper in honour of Bastille day, or a pop up within a restaurant in Manchester. A quick Google search will fill your results page with dozens (maybe hundreds) of pop up restaurants near you.
But what are the pop up restaurant safety regulations? Are there any set regulations? If you’re planning to set up your own pop up restaurant, what do you need to know? Here are 7 things to consider regarding pop up restaurant safety regulations.
1. What temporary permits and insurance do you need?
Check with your local council to see what permits and insurance you need to run a pop up restaurant. If you plan to serve alcohol on your premises, you’ll need an alcohol license or - alternatively - guests can bring their own alcohol.
2. What food safety and hygiene considerations are there?
One of the first considerations is to secure a food hygiene rating from the Foods Standards Agency. As with any public-facing establishment, you will have to meet food safety and hygiene standards. Make sure you know all food safety standards such as the correct, safe temperature at which to cook food. Make sure all food is presented, refrigerated, prepared, stored, and cooked safely within regulations. Just because popups are temporary does not mean they do not have to adhere to the same food safety laws as "permanent" establishments. The last thing you want is being sued for salmonella poisoning!
Pop-up restaurants, especially those outdoors, face the added challenge of open sided vehicles being open to outdoor contaminants carried on the breeze. The same goes for outdoor eating - no one wants flies in their soup! Any popups have to register with their local council's Environmental Health Service 28 days before opening, and you're also required to document any food safety procedures based on a hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP).
3. What safety regulations do I need to consider in my temporary dining area?
You'll need to conduct a risk assessment of your space for the safety of customers and those working for you. For example, you’ll need to make sure there are safety marked fire exits, or that your floor surfaces are free from obstructions, and so forth. You’ll need to comply with all normal business considerations including all health and safety regulations for your space, your guests, and your employees.
4. What are the pros and cons of my location - from a safety perspective?
Again, you’ll want to assess your location. If your pop up is in a tent in a field, what safety concerns could there be? Insects maybe? Animal droppings? Uneven ground? If you’re building your pop up in an old warehouse, in your garden, in your home, in a former restaurant space, and so forth, you have to consider what safety elements you need to protect against. Even though a pop up is considerably cheaper and easier to run than a traditional restaurant, there are still lots of factors to consider.
5. What are the safety considerations of my temporary kitchen?
This category is - again - concerned with the overall hygiene of your kitchen. How will you wash and prepare the food? How will you cool and heat it? How will you store the plates, cutlery, glassware, pans, baking trays, and so forth? Has safety and sanitation been considered? Is there a separate sink in which to wash hands and vegetables? Make sure you research commercial kitchen regulations, and make sure your pop up meets those requirements too. Even if you prepare all of the food at home, and then simply cook or heat it up on site, then make sure your home surfaces meet hygiene standards. Don’t cross contaminate surfaces with both meat and vegetables, and - especially - make sure that when transferring prepared ingredients or cooked food, it’s not left out too long to get into the food temperature danger zone.
When using temporary staff, are they properly trained on food hygiene and all safety procedures, or do you need to provide sufficient training before the event?
If you're hiring kitchen equipment and machinery, make sure to test it before you use it to ensure it has passed recent safety checks, and doesn't present any challenges. A leaking fridge-freezer next to a deep fat fryer is an accident waiting to happen.
Decide on your queue and exit paths for customers - know your environment - and set up a good flow for people to order, and eat to help avoid congestion and safety issues. Quick top: place serviettes, cutlery, and condiments around the corner (or away from the main area) so that people move away from the serving hatch once they've got their food. It will speed up your service and clear congestion.
Make sure you put up safety signs! All considerations of a "normal" restaurant still need to be the same, and comply to the same rules.
6. What inspections need to be made on the electrics in the temporary location?
Depending on if you’re going to be using electric or gas on site, then you need to make sure your hookups are accessible. Do you need the electrics checking? You may be building your pop up in an empty warehouse, but can it accommodate the electrical load, for example? Make sure that your building and electrics are examined especially. Faulty electrics can cause accidental fires.
7. Make sure your surfaces are non-slip, and your temporary employees are wearing safe, slip-resistant footwear.
Trips and slips are the most common workplace accident, so you’ll want to protect any staff you have from slips and trips with the latest in slip-resistant footwear.
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