Pop Up Restaurant Permits: How Cities Work with Social Media

Pop Up Restaurant Permits: How Cities Work with Social Media

Next, in our series on pop up concepts, we will talk about pop up restaurant permits and the nuances you need to look out for. If you missed our article, “What You Need to Know about Pop Up Retail Permits” feel free to go back and read up on it. Pop up restaurants come in many shapes and sizes, as some trending experiences include having customers cooking their own food, or eating in a warehouse on a picnic table with strings of holiday lights as decoration and lighting. But, like pop up retail concepts, if you don’t get the permit you are in for a world of hurt.

Probably the most important thing to remember when looking at a pop-up restaurant permits is to remember most cities won’t approve a temporary use, which means permits will need to be completed in the traditional way. Let’s look at some specific ways pop up restaurants need to be addressed, and we will stay away from the pieces that are the same for retail as you can always refer back to our article.


Health: Health department checks are required for all restaurant concepts, and pop up restaurant permits are no different. Where pop up retail permits may have programs to help expedite the process, pop up restaurants will need to go through a full health department check as the product being sold needs to adhere to local county and health food handlers’ codes.  This means overhead exhausts, grease trap interceptors, and equipment cut sheets need to be checked by the city or county. Los Angeles County Health, for example, does not have a pop-up or expedited review which means pop up restaurants has to go through the full health plan check process.

Fire:  Fire prevention checks required by the building department is the same as for pop up retail, and if the space is small enough sometimes the building planchecker can review. However, some cities may still require the fire marshal to review and approve the plans.

Bureau of Engineering (BOE): Departments like sanitation, industrial waste, engineering, and others fall under the Bureau of Engineering and will behave in a similar way as the health department when it comes to pop up restaurants. For example, if you are serving alcohol two bathrooms will be required which means a BOE check. Here the size and scope of the process can help negotiate the review timeline down, however, you should be prepared to go through a full review process.

At this point, you are probably asking, “Can’t the planning commission or city council just approve the project?” The short answer is: planning cannot and the city council cannot. The long answer is: the different departments requiring checks have been put into place to protect public safety and unfortunately, they can’t just take your word you won’t poison the population.

Permit Advisors Does City Council Meetings
Permit Advisors Does City Council Meetings

Change of Use Permits:

Let’s talk about the really sexy pop-up restaurant concepts, the sushi making concept inside an old tire manufacturing warehouse. It’s a cutting-edge concept that will have millennials flocking to it as soon as it hits Facebook. But, how do you permit it? If it were a traditional restaurant you would apply for a change of use permit. What about pop up restaurants? To get a change of use permit for a pop-up restaurant permit follows the same protocol. There might be some leeway on how difficult it normally is, as the restaurant is temporary; but that depends heavily on the city, the location of the concept, and the planning commission you’re working with.

Let’s take our example further, what if you’re only wanting to use a corner of the warehouse for the sushi making and eating concept? The city will most likely want you to get two permits as you have effectively established a shell and a tenant space, which means they need a record. Any changes require a permit for the record. In the case of two permits, one will be a straightforward building permit showing how the shell is being changed with the second permit being for the restaurant portion of the area. The change of use permit can be revoked at any time, and in the case of a temporary change of use, it will be automatically reverted back to its original certified use.


As we conclude this article, anyone looking to get their pop up restaurant permits approved they must remember:

  • Know the use of the space
  • Understand the Health Department requirements
  • Be willing to wait for BOE planchecks
  • Get a permit expediter


About Permit Advisors: Permit Advisors Inc. is a complete permit, entitlement consulting, and expediting firm based out of Beverly Hills, Ca. We go beyond just submitting plans, as you may have experienced with previous expediters. We have established strong relationships with officials of many municipalities and have numerous time and cost-saving strategies that we implement to efficiently complete projects. We aim to secure all permits as quickly as possible! We keep track of all the different aspects of the permitting process and make sure that the project is being given full attention by everyone on the team. We responsibly update clients and ensure that lines of communication are open between the Jurisdiction, the consultants and the client at all times. Contact us today for a consultation www.permitadvisors.com.


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Jan 9, 2017 By admin