Big Things Poppin’: Pop up restaurants

Pop up restaurants – How do I explain them? I’ll let Wikipedia do it…

Per Wikipedia: “Pop-up restaurants, also called supper clubs, are temporary restaurants.  These restaurants often operate from a private home, former factory, or similar and during festivals.

Pop-up restaurants have been popular since the 2000s in Britain and Australia but they are not a new phenomenon. Pop-up restaurants have existed in the United States and Cuba. Diners typically make use of social media, such as the blogosphere and Twitter, to follow the movement of these restaurants and make online reservations.

Pop-up restaurants, like food trucks, are an effective way for young professionals to gain exposure of their skills in the field of hospitality as they seek investors and attention pursuant to opening a restaurant or another culinary concept.

Pop-up restaurants have been hailed as useful for younger chefs, allowing them to utilize underused kitchen facilities and “experiment without the risk of bankruptcy”.

(END WIKIPEDIA QUOTE – thank you internet….)

Why are pop ups so darn cool?

  • Chefs you may not encounter otherwise might do them
  • The food is rockin’
  • They are temporary (she’s like the wind…)
  • You feel like you’re in on a top secret (psst… did you hear?)

Not exactly the same – but pop ups remind me of what Chef Grant Achatz is doing in Chicago with his restaurant NEXT that completely reinvents itself every 3 months. Is it a new restaurant every 3 months or a 3 month long pop up? Different for him since it’s the same location each time. And he’s selling tickets to dine there like a sporting event/re-defining reservations – some very funky new stuff.

Thinking about pop ups make me think about food trucks – I suppose it’s because both are temporary and I don’t interact with either too often in Atlanta.

So, why am I more into pop up restaurants than food trucks?

I have a love/hate feeling about Food Trucks – coming from a brick and mortar restaurant marketing background I always felt for restaurateurs who paid through the nose for real estate and then had a truck park outside  – paying no rent, blocking their signage/entrance/you name it and grabbing their business.

I did get sucked in (or did I dive in?) to a marathon of Bar Rescue on Spike TV this weekend and when helping a bar (the Brixton) in Austin, TX that didn’t have ANY kitchen with their business my new TV business guru (nightlife expert) Jon Taffer enlisted a food truck to make deliveries into the bar by ordering on ipads. Loved it! Awesome business solution for both. (I also learned to break up a cat fight by putting a frozen towel on the back of one of the girls necks… valuable info).

In general my experience with Atlanta food trucks (they are SO different in other cities) is that I’m eating on the street – but not necessarily the street food I’m looking for.

I want $2 tacos so I can try 3 things, not $12 sammies without a bathroom.  I’m not ruling them all out – but if I have to drive to them, I am expecting something different. Most Atlanta food trucks I’ve eaten at have been at events where they are SUPER convenient.

So while both Pop up restaurants and food trucks are overall temporary – I dig a pop up much, much more for now.

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Today we trekked out to Hector Santiago’s El BurroPollo pop up at Endive catering near Atlantic Station. The burritos and tacos were killer – I also got to see Hector’s handwritten draft of the menu the day before on Facebook, which only made me more excited to get there  (a photo of the roasted pork he posted this AM sealed the deal – shown here – all “borrowed” from Facebook).

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Unlike a food truck: there were chairs, there were tables, I was inside. I brought baby boy and we could “park” his stroller at our table. Easy peasy. Here are some pics I actually snapped on site:

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Now I need to know about more pop up restaurants. I know about the one each Thursday for lunch at 999 Peachtree (pop up chef) – but somehow it slips my mine each week until it’s too late.

Do you have a favorite chef you follow for their pop ups? A favorite pop up series? Tell me everything!

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