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The rise of the pop-up restaurant

The rise of the pop-up restaurant

The pop-up restaurant or supper club as they are otherwise known is not a new idea; they have been popular since the 2000’s. But why might you ask, have they in 2013, suddenly taken the UK, and in particular, the London dining scene, by storm?

Well, with many Mayfair joints setting up shop in East London, or trialling a new area with a food van – to gauge new markets – it’s clear to see that the fine dining restaurant scene is connecting with a much wider and younger audience, it is speaking to a new generation of food lovers, who don’t like the stiff and stuffy side often associated with fine food.

What’s more, a temporary venture allows both young and experienced chefs alike to utilize underused or even disused kitchen facilities, factories or even their own homes, as well as, present them with the chance to experiment with food without the risk of running funds and budgets into the ground. At the same time, they also propel them into the limelight; and dare I say it, allow them to tap into the buzz and excitement around the restaurant scene that has always captured the imagination of the nation.

What’s more, the fact that these pop-ups are just temporary – blink and you have missed it – the cutting edge, innovation and excitement of the tantalising food creations become ‘must haves’, even if you’re not into your food. They become places to be and be seen, especially if you want to be part of the cool crowd or anyone in the ‘know’.

Examples of successful pop-ups

 

1. Street Kitchen

Street Kitchen’s gourmet-food wagon catered to the busy urbanites craving proper meals yet lacking the time to dine in. It has now swapped its wheels for a permanent site in Shoreditch’s Hackney House and continues to provide diners with a daily menu of healthy and tasty options.

2. Disappearing Dinner Club

Stuart Langley’s Disappearing Dinner Club offers something different depending on the day, including tasting menus, Sunday lunch, and the original supper club with all dishes are carefully thought out and lovingly presented. They use in empty warehouses, forgotten rooftops, hidden basements, secret galleries, private gardens and anywhere else they can find.

3. Gingerline

Gingerline is a clandestine dining adventure operating in secret and changing locations along the East London Overground. Powered by founders Suz Mountfort and Kerry Adamson – two adventure-loving food fanatics who adore art, performance and design diced with daring. The next one is Gingerline Hideout.

Image Courtesy of euwen teh, flickr. com

Image Courtesy of euwen teh, flickr. com

4. The Secret Larder

Food writer James Ramsden and his sister serve up an intimate evening of lovingly prepared food at their fabulous London supper club The Secret Larder. Taking place every other Thursday in their cool North London flat, up to 20 food lovers are invited to indulge in a 3-course menu with coffee and chocolates afterwards.

From a PR perspective, pop up restaurants (or any kind of pop up for that matter) are great for generating buzz and building brand awareness for a new restaurant and/or concept, or indeed, an established eatery trying to keep up with the changing pace of the food and hospitality industry. Using the temporary venue is also a great way of showcasing and developing emerging talent too – it’s often a way of sorting the men from the boys in the restaurant world.

The Power of Word of Mouth

We all know how powerful word of mouth can be…personally speaking, the number of times that I have watched a particular film, bought myself something, or visited a destination on the recommendation from a friend, family member, or colleague is too many to count! The opinions and recommendations of those you trust are often invaluable and it is people sharing their suggestions which can often contribute to the success or failure of an idea or concept – this something which is never truer than in the food and restaurant industry where competition is fierce and you’re only ever as good as your last review.

Image Courtesy of Kake, flickr. com

Image Courtesy of Kake, flickr. com

The Good Earth boutique chain of high-end Chinese restaurants is one example of where word of mouth has played a considerable part in the success of the business. A family-owned business which has strived to set the standard for Chinese food in London over the last thirty years, the company is going from strength to strength, with a new restaurant just opened in Wandsworth Common (conveniently around the corner from me!). I had the pleasure of meeting the owner recently who told me that the popularity of the business largely grew from word of mouth alone and it is testament to the exceptionally tasty, authentic Chinese food and the relaxing and traditionally oriental setting of the restaurants, that customers keep coming back with such frequency.

What do businesses do however when current customers have run out of family and friends to recommend them to? PR has a huge part to play in generating word of mouth and this is something which we see on a daily basis through working with a variety of the food and drink clients who we look after at The PHA Group. Having your product, service or establishment featured in the ‘Hot List’, ‘Editor’s Picks’ or ‘Where to Go This Week’ sections of a target title is word of mouth on a huge scale, reaching many thousands of people with one turn of the page, or click of the link. It is a component which shouldn’t be underestimated when looking to drive word of mouth on a large scale and we have worked and continue to work with clients where the PR campaigns which we have implemented have contributed to wider opportunities, such as book deals, a retail listing and unprecedented increases on social media engagement.

So, who has got a good recommendation for the best place for brunch this weekend?