30 April 2016

How to Host a Pop-Up Cafe in Your Garden

How to Host a Pop-Up Cafe in your Garden

This week we held a pop-up cafe in our garden - me, Miss Fab, a bunch of her lovely pals and Grandma. It was a raving success - and bloddy hard work - as well as super fun.
This was part of our fundraising efforts to get our young cheerleader to Hawaii for her competition in June,

Hubby and I are firm believers in getting the kids to work for what they want. We want them to put in an effort themselves rather than just expecting the Bank of Dad to hand over endless wads of cash for the exciting things they want to do. It's important, we reckon, to teach our kids how to work for their goals. I mean, that's real life, isn't it? They'll be out there for real one day with the trainer wheels off, doing life on their own. The more experience they've had working for what they want, putting in sweat and elbow grease toward their dreams, the more confidence they'll have facing their future.

Miss Fab and I are both going to Hawaii and Daddy has agreed to pay half if we come up with the other half. We'd need to raise $2,500 towards the cost of this (very expensive) trip, so she and I put our thinking caps on and began to use what we're good at to raise the money. We are good at hosting. And decorating. And not bad at baking and making coffee. So we ran a garage sale, hosted a High Tea and did a bunch of jobs for people (including daddy). But by far the best (funnest) thing we've done was the Pop-Up Garden Cafe we ran this Tuesday gone, during the school holidays. It was amazing.

Here's how we did it (and how you could do it too).

The 11 year old girls who ran our Pop-Up Garden Cafe to rave reviews


This bunch of girls - can I just say WOW? They are amazing. Amazing bakers, flippin' hard workers, delightful waitresses, wonderful FRIENDS.
They came early, and worked their butts off all day. They baked stuff, waited tables, made kids' lunch packs, cleared tables, smiled at patrons, painted kids faces, served cake, counted change and were hands down the most hard working bunch of girls I've ever met. I can't rave about them enough.
Running a REAL cafe was their idea of fun. There was nothing in it for Miss fab's friends but hard work and leftovers - but they were excited and beyond keen to help.
What can I say? My daughter is blessed with beautiful friends.

Pop Up Cafe team all ready to go


I created a *public* event on Facebook and invited everyone local on my friends list. We targeted people who might be at a loose end during the school holidays, wanting somewhere they could meet a friend for coffee while the kids could run wild. Our backyard is perfect for that.
The day before the event, I emailed everyone local in my address book and posted about it in our local *closed* Facebook community group, which ensured that on the day we had a bunch of local customers that kept our young staff (and me, the ring-in barista) working without a breath, for three hours straight. Our cafe was a raving success. SO. MANY. CUSTOMERS.

We created an event on Facebook
Customers enjoyed our pop up cafe


We stuck to our strengths for this cafe, keeping the menu simple and doable. The girls (and some of their mamas) all baked cakes and cookies the day before. I contributed some allergy friendly additions (brownie and almond orange cake) and on the morning, I whipped up a batch of scones to serve with jam & cream.
For lunch, we simply offered pumpkin soup with garlic bread and "kids packs". We originally planned to offer ham and cheese toasties as well, but quickly realised that we lacked prep space to do those on top of everything else, so crossed them off the menu, quick smart.

The pumpkin soup was - gasp - from a can! But nobody would have ever known. It was Watties "Very Special" Pumpkin Soup, which tastes homemade and is a regular fave at our house. I kept it warming in the slow cooker and served it with ciabatta garlic bread, which we pre-buttered and cooked on demand. Grandma was in charge of the soup.

To drink we offered espresso coffee, iced tea and coffee, hot chocolates and fluffies, berry smoothies and pots of tea. I ended up being the barista, keeping our Nespresso machine buzzing for three busy hours. What I'd do differently (next time!) would be to borrow an extra milk frother, so we could get the coffees out quicker.

Pop Up Garden cafe Goodies - homebaked and easy


To create the vibe for our cafe, we used every bit of cuteness we could lay our hands on. Every blackboard, strand of bunting, vintage teapot and cake stand we could find was called into service. We borrowed domed and tiered cake stands, wrote menus, signs and labels on blackboards, big and small, and foraged down the street for flowers, which we displayed in cans, jars and bottles of all shapes and sizes.
The overall effect was eclectic vintage coolness with a colourful homemade twist.

Our pop up cafe had an eclectic vintage style

We created the menus in Pic Monkey, printed them out black & white and then clipped them to the covers of various vintage annuals with mini wooden pegs. Table numbers were wooden blackboards tags, clipped to paper straws, propped in jars or bottles.
One of our young waitresses took charge of scribing the blackboard signage, and did a gorgeous job.

Pop Up Cafe tables of all shapes and sizes

We rounded up every table and chair we could find, and created a few more with planks and wooden horses. Gingham tablecloths and hydrangeas, coupled with plenty of fluttering bunting made for a very welcoming setting, and plenty of seating.

Our Pop Up Cafe setup included plenty of spaces to sit and room for the kids to play


Word about our cafe spread faster than I could ever have imagined. Parents and grandparents hearing the terms "coffee" and "kids run free" in one sentence flooded in from all directions and kept us run off our feet getting out orders from 10.30am-1.00pm without a break.
Every table was full, kids were playing basketball, climbing trees and making train tracks.
 Grown ups were patiently waiting for coffee/smoothies/soup and were were racing round trying our best to get everything out to the right tables without much delay.
Somehow it all worked. Our pop-up cafe was a raving success beyond our wildest dreams. We had real customers, (not just supportive friends and rellies) and they were IMPRESSED!

Here's two of my favourite comments from customers on Facebook:

It was incredibly satisfying to pull off such a massive thing. A cafe worth coming to, in our backyard. Staffed by 11 year olds and novices like me and grandma which somehow was such a success.

We raised a goodly amount of money too - and are now nearly at our target, with six weeks to go.
It was such a success and so much fun that the girls all agree we should do it again. Next time, maybe in summer, leading up to Christmas. We'll pick a charity and donate proceeds to a worthy cause (plus this time I'll make sure the girls get something in their pocket for their efforts too).

Such and amazing team of girls - and amazing friends to have


  • We had enough servings of soup and garlic bread for 20 people (10 cans of soup, 20 ciabatta pockets)
  • We had enough ingredients for kids packs for twenty kids (a pack of 20 bread rolls, ham, pre-sliced cheese, chopped fruit and grape kebabs; popcorn & mini gingerbread men)
  • Coffee was made on a Nespresso machine -  we ordered extra capsules in readiness
  • We had about 9 litres of milk in the fridge for coffees, tea and smoothies
  • We offered soy milk, decaf, long black or latte as options.
  • We made 5 litres of iced tea and 5 litres of apple soda (apple juice with soda water)
  • We set up the food ordering and prep area inside in the kitchen dining room
  • We asked customers to come inside to order and pay, they took a table number and then their orders were brought out to their table by waitresses
  • We had a float of change ($25) and it was cash only. The girls took the orders, the money and gave  change
  • The waitresses cleared the tables and we washed the cups and plates by hand as we went to ensure a ready supply
  • We had take-away coffee cups and brown paper bags in case customers wanted their goodies "to go".
  • Cakes and cookies that could be made ahead of time were kept in airtight containers until the day; scones were baked on the day to ensure freshness, as they don't keep well.
  • We served cakes with a choice of cream or homemade greek yoghurt
  • We had three gluten free and two dairy free options, so make sure there was something for everyone.
  • The girls began by having a roster allocating jobs, but in the end they ditched the roster and stuck to a system of one person having responsibility for certain things. E.g. one girl made all the kids packs, others stuck to waitressing, another took orders and plated cakes etc, grandma ladled soup and grilled garlic bread etc (Me, I was on the coffee machine).

Our cafe Tables were spread with gingham tablecloths
The cafe was packed with customers from 10:30 til 1pm

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