Five years ago, pop-up restaurants were a curiosity reserved for hard-core food enthusiasts. Now, the phenomenon is well and truly in the mainstream, with the number of pop-up restaurants rising by 82 percent in the last year, according to EventBrite.
The format is ideal for younger chefs looking to start up on a budget or for established restaurateurs who want to experiment without loading up on costs. With the freedom to create unusual menus, perhaps with a novel theme, pop-ups naturally appeal to foodies, but an interesting location can also create a buzz that will establish a newcomer’s reputation with a broader audience.
The number of pop-up restaurants has increased by 82% in the last year.
Christmas is an ideal time to try something new - party season is the time when demand for novelty soars, after all. So, what worked well last year? And what’s on the agenda already for this Christmas?
Rooftops have always been a popular venue for pop-ups, and Once upon a Wigwam at the Queen of Hoxton was a classic of the genre. The wigwam on the rooftop of this east London bar was filled with wood chippings and tree-stump stools, and the menu had a British twist on the German Christmas market experience: hot buttered rum, a gardener’s grog with gin and hot blackcurrant, blackberry and rosemary, as well as chicken schnitzel and pork, sausage and crackling in a bun. The event is running this year, too, for those who would like to see what makes it such a success.
The theme at Skylounge in the DoubleTree Hilton at Tower Hill was similar, but the execution was very different. The Treehouse was created with a pinewood bar and decked out in a more traditional Christkindlmarkt fashion, with hot cocktails and posh street food: truffle macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets with a spicy Bourbon dip.
At Selfridges, the Cabin Bar on the rooftop took a chocolate theme, matched by its indulgent décor of blankets, fake fur and cushions in an alpine style retreat. Hot chocolates were the main draw, souped up into ‘choctails’ with gingerbread liqueurs and chestnut creams, as well as mulled wine, craft beers and intriguing plates of Dorset crab rarebit. This year, Selfridges is running a winter-themed event in its Forest Restaurant and Bar on the Roof space.
This year, John Lewis is making use of the roof top of its Oxford Street store with its Gardening Society pop-up. The retailer has set up lodges and picnic tables, hot toddies, spiced Negronis and real Christmas trees for sale.
The old BBC Television Centre in Shepherds Bush is being used again by Pergola on the Roof, and promises a Nordic-style forest inside a heated dome, with restaurants from four of London’s hottest venues: Snaps & Rye, Patty & Bun, Le Bab and Gunpowder.
Rooftops are not the only options of course. The Goring hotel used its private garden to create a homage to the Swiss Alps with its St Moritz Ski Bar, with tartiflette, Emmental macaroons and gluhwein. At Mr Fogg’s Residence in Mayfair, the cocktail bar was transformed into a winter botanical garden with holly-covered decorations and hot cocktails in teapots.
The key to a successful pop-up, whatever its size and ambition, is to create an appealing idea and use the space available in an enticing way. As you would expect, Restaurant Property’s team have experience in setting up pop-ups of all kinds and for all seasons, so please contact our friendly experts today.
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