What is a pop-up restaurant?

The rise of the pop-up restaurant (no pun intended)

Pop-up restaurants.  Here today, gone tomorrow, but always memorable. As the name suggests a pop-up restaurant is a dining establishment that literally “pops up” from nowhere often at an unconventional space like a rooftop or parking lot. Pop-up restaurants can even be staged at local farms such as Churchview Farms in Pittsburgh where guest chefs from the region’s best restaurants present a multi-course menu paired with a local brewery or winery.   A downtown Pittsburgh parking lot was converted into an elegant dining space last September for 50 guests to experience a  seven-course tasting menu prepared by chefs Richard DeShantz of Meat & Potatoes and Keith Fuller of Root 174.  

Why chefs should care about pop-up restaurants

As an up and coming chef, a pop-up restaurant is great way to build your reputation and market yourself.  The pop-up allows you to have total creative freedom and showcase your talents.  For more seasoned chefs, a pop-up would allow you to test that new concept you have been experimenting with. Marketing your pop-up event is important.  This is a great opportunity to impress  investors that would allow you to finally open your own restaurant or that second location.

Pop-up restaurants are a great way to fundraise

Pop-up restaurants can be a great way to raise money for local non-profits.  Bobby Frye of Bar Marco in Pittsburgh hosted a pop-up dinner with eleven of the city’s best chefs and raised over $9,000 for the Food Revolution Cooking Club   Michelin star chef Jason Atherton used a pop-up restaurant in London to raise over $40,000 for the homeless.

The pop-up restaurant experience

Pop-up restaurants create a unique and intimate experience for guests.  It is something out of the ordinary for individuals who dine out frequently.  Rene Redzepi, head chef of Copenhagen’s Noma restaurant, ran a pop-up at the Claridges Hotel in London for 10 days with a menu that featured dishes like live ants and flowers focusing on locally foraged ingredients.  One of the most unusual pop-ups was on the London Eye. A capsule on the giant ferris wheel was transformed into a dining room with tasting menus from celebrated chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Richard Corrigan.


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