Tips & Stories

How to Run a Pop-Up Restaurant with Evernote: Rice Paper Scissors [video]

Posted by Kasey Fleisher Hickey on 02 May 2011

Posted by Kasey Fleisher Hickey on 02 May 2011

Name: Valerie Luu & Katie Kwan
Profession: street food vendors, creators of Rice Paper Scissors,
a Vietnamese Pop-Up Cafe
Location: San Francisco
Valerie’s food business:
Little Knock
Katie’s food business:
Kitchen Sidecar
@littleknock & @kitchensidecar


Valerie Luu (aka Little Knock) and Katie Kwan (aka Kitchen Sidecar) are San Francisco-based street food vendors who launched Rice Paper Scissors, a Vietnamese Pop-Up Cafe. Valerie and Katie first joined forces to put on a streetside dining event to celebrate Vietnamese New Year. Their events have drawn crowds from across San Francisco and the Bay Area and firmly established the two entrepreneurs in the local Pop-Up dining scene. Rice Paper Scissors was recently profiled in The New York Times.

Read their story and watch the video, which follows them as they plan and host their latest event in the Mission District of San Francisco. Their next pop-up will be happening in the coming weeks. Check out their Tumblr for more details.

Evernote, Everywhere:

We use Evernote for…

We wanted to create a guerilla style of dining in an unexpected setting that drew from our cultures and travel experiences in Vietnam. Planning a pop-up dining experience is equivalent to opening a new restaurant every time you hold an event. There are so many moving parts —from finding a location to creating a theme to buying ingredients to keeping track of expenses and figuring out logistics. Evernote plays a starring role in helping us plan and execute our events.

Here’s a look at the some of the ways we use Evernote to plan a Rice Paper Scissors event:

1. Location

    We’re always on the lookout for great locations for our events. We’re inspired by streetside food vendors in Vietnam who serve their food to patrons on tables surrounded by little red plastic stools. We wanted to bring their spirit and their food to San Francisco. We typically focus on finding something off the street like an auto garage—a common gathering place in Vietnam—or ally patio. We snap photos of potential locations with Evernote on our iPhone—we can then review and discuss potential locations later.

2. Menu Planning

The menu has to be smart and efficient because we prepare food to order, with minimal equipment. The food we serve has to be tasty and relevant to the specific food region we’re highlighting, which changes with each event. We do a lot of research prior to creating a menu. We’ll visit shops and restaurants and do tastings of dishes and ingredients, noting our tasting notes in Evernote, snapping photos, and tagging everything ‘RPS.’ From there, we create a menu plan. We’ll create a grocery list using Evernote’s check-box feature and pull it up while we’re out shopping. Being able to check off items we’ve purchased keeps us organized.

3. Concept/Ambiance

Since each event is a pop-up, creating ambiance is important—everything from the place settings to the music has to be spot on. Evernote helps up keep track of options for places settings, artists and equipment (like the little red stools that have become our signature). We capture inspiration with Evernote whenever and wherever it strikes. We’ll jot down ideas for potential dishes, clip articles and images from the web, snap photos of bowls and throw them all in Evernote. We’ll note cookbooks that we want to purchase in Evernote and also take photos of decorations.

4. Collateral Creation

We work with different graphic designers to create posters promoting our events. We post them online and also hand out physical posters. We try to use different graphic designers for our events. We keep a collection of posters and artwork in Evernote, so they’re always handy.

5. Logistics and Finances

Throughout the planning process, Evernote helps us stay within budget and keep a record of our costs. We capture all of our receipts into Evernote, along with contact information for vendors and location sites. We typically draft and send out a press release prior to each event, so we keep promotional materials organized in our Rice Paper Scissors notebook, too.  On the day of the event, the most important thing we have to focus on is the food and our customers.

The cool thing about Evernote is that it’s this amazing business tool for us, but it’s also a place to store and track all sorts of ideas. We keep track of ideas for home decor, writing projects, and conversations with interesting people.

Favorite Feature

We’re very visual, so we rely on taking a lot of snapshots. Because images are searchable, we can take photos of receipts and business cards and be able to find specific ingredient prices and names quickly—Evernote will search for text inside of images. We love making check boxes—they keep everything buttoned up.

User Tip: Evernote for Hard-to-Remember Product Names

I feel like there are certain things that I just can never remember. For example, there’s this type of bread that I love called ‘Pain Epi.’ It’s shaped like a leaf. I keep a picture of it with the name in my Evernote so that when I’m out shopping and inevitably forget what it’s called, I can just pull it up on my Evernote and know exactly what to ask for at the counter.

Evernote Tip

For location scouting, take advantage of search by location. When you snap a photo with you smartphone, Evernote will actually capture the latitude/longitude of the note. In the map view, you can see where notes were created, so you can easily retrace your steps.


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13 Comments RSS

  • chew hong

    This is an exciting story about Evernote and entrepreneurship. The street culture either food kiosk or other retails are important ingredients for a vibrant community live. Big cheers to you and best wishes to your venture.

  • random1947

    This sounds interesting, but would not work in small (under 100K) town. You need a city like San Fran for it to work. Also would not work in cities with small downtown districts. Take Jacksonville, FL. The population is spread out over a large area and most of the people never go downtown.

    Using Evernote to manage the business was thinking our of the box. Shows real creativity. I just started using the software in the last week. I was looking for an App to store encrypted information like passwords.

    • James

      What you raise are some really important issues for the infrastructure of mid-size towns and cities. There are lots of places with plenty buildings and cars that don’t even know what a side-walk is. Many of these places are home to what is being called “food deserts” (with a single “s”!) literally places where people can only eat out of an imported package.

      As for passwords, some people get really advanced with password storage, and I’m sure there’s some merit to that. All I do on my mac is use the keychain app: local drive, password protected, walla. If you use Chrome or Firefox, you can opt for new online passwords to be copied automatically to a new keychain. Otherwise, I tag “Welcome” emails for different sign-ups and put them all in one folder in my mail client. Only occasionally do I use the encrypted note feature in EN, although its nice to know it’s there.

      • TechJunky

        Try 1password for password storage and so much more. Secure password, ID and account information in one place with, you guessed it 1Password!

      • Jacques

        Not to knock on the great Evernote, but I wonder if it is ‘truly’ suited for password storage. I don’t know its encryption, nor its database strength, but I think that large(r) databases (with 1000’s of notes and images) run a higher risk of getting corrupted. is a pw-vault only – small, open source.
        It would be interesting to see how EN compares with KP.


      1Password is an amazing password management app. Please bear in mind, if you use a Mac and Safari, Evernote and 1Password will occasionally knock each other off the menu bar, but it’s easy to put the button back.

    • Raj

      For storing encrypted passwords the best solution I find is to use Lastpass, just like evernote, Lastpass saves all your password in an encrypted file on it’s server so that it can be accessed from anywhere.

    • Frans Utt


      This is exactly what I do in Evernote. enter the password select it right click and encrypt it. Simple and it works.. (at least for me 😉 )

  • St Surla

    Neat story about fun, fresh enterpreneurship and a creative use of Evernote. It seems there are many features of the tool that I’m not aware of. Checkboxes? Encryption? Text recognition? I’ve been using EN mainly for to-do lists, and apparently have not dug very deeply yet. Or… the cool features have not been really apparent to me.

  • Rick Stroud

    This blog proveswhat I, as a writer and film maker have found – Evernote is an amazing resource for recording and tracking ideas wherever and whenever they occurr. The other brilliant thing is the way it pushes data to all my devices (two MacBooks an iPad and an iPhone). Great stuff Evernote.

  • Jay

    Looked at evernote on my Blackberry, may try it out. Seem’s very cool app.

  • niru

    Can anyone plz tel how to save web page/link in android.

  • Ray

    Evernote on a Blackberry? Hmmm, I tried this for a while and hated it. Unless its changed in the past few months the BB version of Evernote is just a web interface and unless you have a really good BB and fast connection it just doesn’t (at least for me) work. I now use Android and it’s pretty good on the little green robot.