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Pop-Up Restaurants

Updated: Jan 15


There is always something in the Portland food scene that will set it apart from other major contenders. Pop-ups are not new, but they are now emerging boldly from the underground and into the spotlight. So what is a pop-up and how can you legally host one?

Pop-ups generally consist of a guest chef(s) cooking a few days/nights in an existing food service location. In the past they have been in remote locations like an abandoned warehouse, closed restaurant or in a park which increased their allure. One operation I ran across wouldn’t announce the location of their pop-up event location until two hours before the event started.

As the popularity and interest increased, they began taking over the space of traditional restaurants that may not be open in the evening or locations that turn over their kitchens to some nomad chefs for a night or two each month.

So, are they legal? Yep, they are … as long as there is a valid license to operate from the Environmental Health Department. You can contact your area inspector or the front office for more information at 503.988.3400.

Here are the four scenarios:

  • A restaurant has a guest chef that comes into the restaurant and cooks with the other restaurant employees - this would not require a separate Restaurant License.

  • A chef has their own area (dining and/or kitchen) in a restaurant with their own employees separate from the licensed restaurant - this would require a separate Restaurant License.

  • A chef operates when a restaurant is closed under another name with their own employees - this would require a separate Restaurant License.

  • Multiple operators operate at one location with separate staff - each operator would need their own Restaurant License.

A Restaurant License is obtained by filling out and submitting this form with payment to our office.

If the pop-up is operating under an approved event and meets all other requirements for operating as a "Temporary Restaurant", that license can be applied for by following the instructions here.

Bottom line for restaurant owners is look before you leap and know what you’re leaping into before letting someone else takes over your kitchen space. Bon Appétit!


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