Supper clubs, pop-up restaurants, and home restaurants have all been increasing in popularity since around the early 2000s. The success of such models is largely tied to the rise of digital communication and social media, since diners typically use these mediums to learn about and make reservations at these exciting new eateries.

It’s now easier than ever to set up and promote one of these clubs or restaurants. Social media has made people more aware and accepting of unconventional dining options, and a good number of those who have set them up have since launched successful culinary careers. But even though setting up a supper club, pop-up, or home restaurant can be a realistic goal for almost anybody; there are still some important things that anyone seeking to do so should know.

For this reason I was recently invited to talk at the Guardian’s“How to Start a Supper Club, Home Restaurant, or Pop-Up” Masterclass. Alongside MasterChef finalist Tony Rodd and writer and regular supper club host Uyen Luu, I was asked to explain to delegates exactly what it takes to launch a successful supper club, home restaurant, or pop-up.   As somebody who’s passionate about both food and food safety, as well as personal and professional development, I was delighted to be invited to talk at the event, and used the opportunity to educate attendees about all the legal and safety factors for anyone seeking to open a supper club, home restaurant, or pop-up. If you missed the event, this article runs some of the most important things I shared so that, if you’re interested in starting up a supper club, home restaurant or pop-up, you’ll know exactly what you have to do to ensure that everything is legal and safe.

Set Up Check List

Before you can start a supper club, home restaurant, or pop-up, you need to first:

You must register your premises with the environmental health service at your local authority at least 28 days before opening. Registration is free. If you’re planning to use more than one premise, you need to register each individually.

Contact your local council to set up waste collection. Even though you may be running your operation from your living room, you will likely generate an awful lot of waste. Since your business will be registered, you should take advantage of business waste collection.

Some tools will be essential, some may just make your life easier, so it’s important you have everything in place before you launch. Colour-coded chopping boards are essential for good hygiene practice, while a piping bag has versatility beyond putting icing on a cake, such as applying the finishing touches during the final stages of plate preparation when you need to be precise with where your sauces are to go.

You and your employees need to gain the Level 2 Food Safety Course certification since you will be preparing food for others. You will also need to consider Health and Safety and Fire Safety arrangements.

 

The Level 2 Award for Personal Licence Holders is a qualification aimed at anyone working in or preparing to work in any industry that involves the sale of alcohol. If you want to sell alcohol, you need to look into this.

Food Safety

Food safety should of paramount importance if you want your new business to be a success. If people get ill after eating your food, they’re not likely to come back; however, they are instead likely to tell the world about their bad experience via social media. The consequences of poor food hygiene are:

  • Getting a bad reputation
  • Giving customers food poisoning
  • Receiving customer complaints
  • Wasting food
  • Getting pest infestations
  • Forcing staff to work in poor conditions
  • The possibility of facing legal action – fines, closure, or civil action
  • And even causing death

To avoid all of this, everybody working in the catering industry must take measures throughout the food production process to ensure that it is safe to consume. This means having clean premises and following good practices.   The high-risk foods most associated with food poisoning are those that are high in protein and moisture. These include: cooked meat and poultry, cooked meat and poultry products (such as sausages, burgers, pates, pies, stocks and sauces), dairy products, eggs and egg products, and shellfish and other seafood. It should also be noted that cooked rice, though not high in protein, is also high-risk.   Even though some products are risky, food poisoning is always avoidable.

The most common causes of food poisoning are:

  • Preparing food too far in advance and leaving it in the danger zone (5°C to 63°C)

  • Cooling food too slowly (within 90 minutes)

  • Not reheating food to a high enough temperature (+75°C for 30 seconds)

  • Using food that is already contaminated

  • Not cooking food to a high enough temperature (+75°C for 30 seconds)

  • Not thawing frozen food properly before it is cooked

  • Cross contamination of raw to cooked food

  • Storing hot food below 63°C – in the danger zone

  • Contamination of food by food handlers

  • Using leftover food

Food safety law in the UK aims to protect food from “farm to fork”, prevent unfit food from entering the food chain, and reduce the risk of food-borne illness. There are a large number of laws, regulations, and codes of practice to ensure that this is the case.   For those intending to set up a supper club, home restaurant, or pop-up, the most important are:

The best way to ensure compliance with these regulations is to make sure that everybody involved in the business gains their Level 2 Food Safety in Catering certificate and to implement a HACCP food safety management system. HACCP, or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, is a system that identifies, evaluates, and controls hazards that are significant for food safety. It is a formal, documented system. Additionally SFBB, or Safer Food, Better Business, is a food safety management pack that has been developed to help small catering businesses comply with food hygiene regulations. The packs can be downloaded for free here.

Conclusion

Cooking for friends and family can be an absolute delight. And many of those who wish to share this experience with even more people may find that setting up a supper club, home restaurant, or pop-up is both incredibly enjoyable and a shrewd business move.   But it’s important that your operation is safe. My company, Anderson Food Hygiene, offers a range of excellent training courses. We are market leaders in the delivery of highly-engaging and accredited training covering all levels of Food Safety, HACCP, Health and Safety, Fire Safety, First Aid, Licensing, and Training Principles and Practices.   Are you thinking of setting up a supper club, home restaurant, or pop-up? Or perhaps you’ve already done so? Either way, let us know what attracts you to the concept and any stories you have.

Sylvia Anderson, Chartered MCIPD, MRSPH, BA (Hons) MIH, MSOFHT, is the founder and MD of Anderson Food Hygiene. To find out more about Sylvia or Anderson Food Hygiene, click here.