Friday, 8 September 2006

Pop up restaurants / bars

Pop up restaurants have been an exciting phenomenon in Holland in recent months. Now they are set to hit London. In the Observer last weekend, there was a brilliant article about it. Here's an extract:

"First came the 'guerrilla store'. In warehouses or disused buildings in the hippest parts of London or New York, fashion designers would set up shops that lasted only a couple of days, allowing them to off -load stock or try out new creations to an audience restricted to those hip enough to hear about the openings by word of mouth.

And now we have the guerrilla restaurant; usually housed in makeshift structures and situated off every beaten track, with top chefs but a deliberately limited lifespan. For those drawn to restaurants with three-month waiting lists and secret phone numbers for the privileged few, this is the next step - a restaurant so exclusive that there's no advertising, it's very hard to find, and that if you're not in the loop it will have vanished by the time you even discover it.

Earlier this year, the Antwerp restaurateur Vinko Pepa opened a temporary dining space called Mist, crafted with postmodernist flair from rough, cheap materials and designed to vanish after five months. 'A temporary restaurant allows for more risk taking,' says Pepa. 'I had some talented chefs, Njegosh Kalicanin and Tim Teck, whom I wanted to give free reign to in the kitchen. It also allowed us to experiment with the interior. You can surprise people.'

There have been supperclubs across the world for some years, with club promoters taking over existing restaurants for one night only - Modern Times, for example, the London based retro jazz club, hosted a dinner at the old Titanic space this summer and at the Chelsea's Bluebird Dining Rooms last year. The guerrilla concept merely takes the exclusivity to another level - it's the foodie equivalent of the Eighties rave, where finding that elusive field somewhere off the M25 was all part of the experience."

The article likens these guerilla restaurants to the foodie equivalent of an 80s rave. Excitingly, Bistrotheque is planning to open an underground guerilla restaurant in the near future...the buzz has already started.

Whilst some of these ventures are commercial operations in many ways I find Ghetto Gourmet's model more interesting. They are a group of people in America who meet up regularly for spontaneous banquets organised entirely using the web.

They use Flickr to share their community's pictures and have a video on You Tube to drive support. It's a great example, although a bit rough and ready, of how to create a cult movement and keep a community alive.

The concept of a pop up restaurants is rumoured to have started in Cuba with the secret restaurants that Castro banned called Paladars. The most famous of which is La Guarida where I can personally recommend the seared tuna with sugar cane and lobster sauce followed by vanilla creme brule with a curry sauce!

It would be great to launch and underground, guerilla bar movement supported by one of our brands.

Thanks to the amazing Sarah Cowie for finding the Observer article.


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