As any aspiring restaurateur knows, starting a brick-and-mortar restaurant can be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. It’s also a huge financial risk — especially if you’re taking on an unusual concept.
That’s why places like Town Popup, which opened a month ago, can be a boon for new food entrepreneurs. Town Popup opened at the site of the former Temple Club (2307 International Blvd., Oakland), the Vietnamese restaurant from chef Geoffrey Deetz. The space has room for five long-term pop-up “residencies” lasting two years each, and it’ll also offer weekend-long pop-up opportunities.
The folks behind Town Popup are business partners William Bonhorst and Silvano Hernandez, who also own Cinco TacoBar, a fast-casual Mexican restaurant with locations in San Leandro and Livermore. But Hernandez is from Oakland, and wanted to “come back eventually and do something unique in Oakland — and also bring the community together,” Bonhorst said. Bonhorst said the space will showcase exclusively local food entrepreneurs, and he’s looking for vendors who can bring something creative to Town Popup.
“The end goal is to have multiple brands and allow people to come in and try different concepts,” Bonhorst said. “And [to] help out the local community by giving a little bit of a storefront to their dreams in the culinary space.”
Town PopUp is home to one resident pop-up, Man vs. Fries. Bonhorst and his fiancée, Ghazal Sharif, started Man vs. Fries about a year ago as a pop-up out of Cinco TacoBar’s Livermore location. Bonhorst describes the pop-up as “a French-fry lover’s dream.” Start with the fries of your choice — including curly fries or waffle fries — then add your choice of meat and toppings. Customers can even get fries inside a burrito or quesadilla. Desserts are reminiscent of the sweets you’d find at a county fair: fried cheesecake, fried cookie dough, and the “OMG Oreo,” a deep-fried Oreo.
Upcoming resident vendors will include Mac & Mischief, serving creative mac ‘n’ cheese, and StrEat Dog, which riffs on the concept of the Mexican hot dog. Additional resident vendors will be announced soon. Town Popup is also currently looking for vendors for its weekend-long pop-ups; interested food entrepreneurs can apply on Town Popup’s website.
To learn more, visit Town Popup’s website at TownPopUp.com or follow Town Popup on Instagram at @townpopup.