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Allan Pera, Investigator
Office: (415) 252-3836

Food Safety Program: "Pop-Ups" and other Non-traditional Temporary Food Facilities

In San Francisco, there has been a substantial growth in non-traditional temporary food facilities, including so called "pop-up" restaurants that are open for short periods of time in undisclosed locations. Pop-ups are distinguished from temporary food facilities at public community events such as state and county fairs, city festivals, circuses, and other public gatherings. Pop-ups are marketed using various social media and customers make reservations on line, on occasion, without knowledge of the location of the event. Pop-ups are becoming an important part of the diversity in San Francisco's vibrant food industry. The Department supports this diversity yet also needs to ensure that all food facilities comply with health and safety rules.

Hosting a "Pop-up" Event

If a permitted food facility wishes to temporarily host a "pop-up" facility operated by food operators other than themselves, they must fill out the Notificatin of "Pop-up" Food Event Form (pdf). This form must be faxed to the Environmental Health Department at least 14 days prior to the event.

General Food Facility Guidelines

  1. All retail food facilities, regardless of their size, duration and location of operation, are subject to California food safety laws and must obtain a permit from the Department of Public Health.
  2. Where food operations occur in a single fixed location for more than 25 days in three months, the food operator should obtain a traditional restaurant permit.
  3. Where food operations occur in either single or multiple locations for 25 days or less in three months, the food operator should generally obtain a Temporary Food Facility Permit. One temporary permit is adequate for a single food operation operating in one location for multiple days. Operators of Temporary Food Facilities are not required to hold a catering permit. The food operator must demonstrate compliance with other city codes (e.g. fire codes).
  4. A food operation that occasionally prepares and serves food at another food facility that is already permitted by the Department, which is common with many "popā€ups," may also operate with a valid catering permit. The host food facility must have a valid permanent food facility permit and advise the health inspector in advance that they will be hosting a guest food facility. The host facility must also ensure that the food preparation activities are within the scope of the permit.