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Pop-up restaurants have been popular since the 2000s in Britain and Australia but they are not a new phenomenon. Pop-up restaurants have existed in the United States and Cuba. Diners typically make use of social media, such as the blogosphere and Twitter, to follow the movement of these restaurants and make online reservations.
Pop-up restaurants, like food trucks, are an effective way for young professionals to gain exposure of their skills in the field of hospitality as they seek investors and attention pursuant to opening a restaurant or another culinary concept.
Pop-up restaurants have been hailed as useful for younger chefs, allowing them to utilize underused kitchen facilities and "experiment without the risk of bankruptcy". By 2013, this restaurant style had gained steam and prevalence in larger cities thanks in part to crowd-funding efforts that offered the short-term capital needed to fund start-up costs.
Notable entrepreneurs, chefs, and restaurateurs have opened pop-up restaurants:
- Jason Atherton
- Camille Becerra
- Thomas Keller
- Pierre Koffmann
- Ludo Lefebvre
- Alan Philips 
- Stephen Starr 
Differently from traditional pop-up restaurants, which tend to financially support their restaurateurs as means of profit or living, the Restaurant Day event (Finnish: Ravintolapäivä) invites people to put up their own restaurants, cafés and bars for one day only. Founded by Timo Santala, Olli Sirén and Antti Tuomola in Helsinki, Finland, in 2011, the movement is intended to promote and celebrate food culture.
Restaurant Day takes place worldwide four times a year, and over 3600 one-day restaurants by estimated 12 000+ restaurateurs have catered for estimated 180 000+ customers in the past Restaurant Days.
21 May 2011: 45 restaurants, 13 cities
18 August 2011: 190 restaurants, 30+ cities, 4 countries
19 November 2011: 287 restaurants, 40+ cities, 2 countries
4 February 2012: 304 restaurants, 50+ cities, 12 countries
19 May 2012: 711 restaurants, 90+ cities, 19 countries
19 August 2012: 784 restaurants, 100+ cities, 17 countries
17 November 2012: 702 restaurants, 130+ cities, 25 countries
17 February 2013: 629 restaurants, 130+ cities, 31 countries
One-day restaurants have so far popped up in 43 different countries including Aruba, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Mexico, Mozambique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, Venezuela and USA.
Some web portals, such as mealtango.com, facilitate popups for amateur chefs. MealTango connects people looking for authentic home-cooked meals with hosts who cook and serve such meals in their homes, through a common online platform.
- "Everyone back to mine: Pop-up restaurants in private homes are the latest foodie fad". The Independent. 4 June 2009. Retrieved 2011-01-23.
- "At Pop-Ups, Chefs Take Chances With Little Risk", Gregory Dicum, New York Times, February 11, 2010
- Sarah Schindler, Unpermitted Urban Agriculture: Transgressive Actions, Changing Norms, and the Local Food Movement, 2014 Wisconsin Law Review 369, available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2414016
- "New Trend: Pop-up Restaurants Selling Tickets". ThunderTix. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
- "Jason Atherton Pop-up Restaurant", PKL, Pop-up restaurants website, January 30, 2011
- "Born to eat and run", Brian Niemietz, New York Post, May 6, 2010
- "French Laundry's Thomas Keller Opens Ad Lib Pop-Up - BiteClub Wine Country Dining". BiteClub Restaurants Dining and Food. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
- "London’s Pop-Up Restaurants Let Rising Chefs Shine"
- "'Pop-Up' Restaurant LudoBites Hit Of Los Angeles", Alex Cohen, Southern California Public Radio, NPR, August 23, 2010
- "So You Want To Open A Pop-Up Restaurant", Alan Phillips, Zagat, March 2, 2011
- "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?", Danielle Stein, W Magazine, September 2010
- "Dining Calendar", Florence Fabricant, New York Times, October 12, 2010
- "THE RULES OF MAGIC". THE RULES OF MAGIC. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
- "Restaurant Day is a carnival of food". Visithelsinki.fi. Retrieved February 14, 2014.