Just like you don’t need code to test a software product, you don’t need to open a restaurant to test a food concept. Start small and lean, open up a pop-up shop. Read more below.
Some examples from personal experience:
Thornes Foods, Brighton
After a multi-million pound re-fit this 3-storey whole foods store and restaurant closed its doors less than 6 months after opening. It was a noble concept – bringing the very best local produce under one roof, but often at premium prices.
What brought the downfall of Thornes? Was it the expensive refurbishment? The poor location with little footfall? The premium price point? Having a café on the 3rd floor? I’m sure it was a combination of all of the above, but either way it didn’t last long and with little momentum or a loyal following behind it, an undertaking such as this was always going to be difficult. Could these risks have been tested with a smaller implementation of the idea? Undoubtedly.
Small Batch Coffee, Brighton
On the flip side you have Small Batch. These guys started out with a coffee cart outside Brighton train station (it’s still there in fact), as well as at various local festivals and food events. A local business focused on sourcing the very best coffee and delivering this to local commuters on their way to work. Through word of mouth and awareness (through being in such a prominent location), Small Batch came known to have a great product and trusted brand. So the natural step was to set up their own café, which they’ve now done. A lovely little space within MyHotel 5 mins walk from the station. They taken a previously jinxed spot and turned it into a buzzing local meeting point. Would it have been such as success without their pop-up shop? I doubt it.
Doing one thing well
The other advantage of having a pop-up shop is that you’re limited by the space you have (and the time you have to get someone’s attention). If they’re in a rush you need to make it clear very quickly what you sell. Think of it as your core feature set for your MVP. What do you want to get known for? Doing one thing really well will help you to get passionate early customers and help spread the word.
Who ever said Lean only applies to software? Do you have any experiences of applying lean to other industries?