Pop-up restaurants, a delicious surprise

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Food: our very life force, the centre of all gastronomical adventures! One such thrill which makes foodies buzz is the pop-up restaurant. The pop-up, much like its name, comes up overnight, just for a few nights – and if you are lucky, for a couple of weeks. These restaurants don’t advertise, they depend on word-of-mouth, social media and food bloggers’ buzz to generate footfalls.
So why pop-up restaurants? Aren’t regular restaurants enough? Why do brands need small pop-up, here-for-a-few-days outlets when their regular restaurants are already doing excellent business? The idea is fairly simple: to bring people and gourmet fare together.
Pop-up restaurants are not very expensive to run, and gives chefs and restaurateurs a chance to experiment with the menu.
A pop-up can be of three types
– Menu-based: Basically a special menu that a restaurant serves for a few weeks
– Restaurant-based: The existing restaurant converts itself into a new restaurant
– Proper Pop-Up: Which has various specialised home chefs and bakers presenting their special menu for a day
Explaining the concept of pop-ups, Chef Vikram Khatri says, “The menu for pop-ups comprises of the star dishes of the restaurant. Generally there is no difference in the prices of the dishes when compared to the main menu, but at times, depending on various factors like rentals and availability of raw materials, these prices can differ. We try to create a cookie-cutter look of the restaurant that gives the same feel but at a different location.”
Pop-up restaurants generally come up in non-traditional places – inside an existing restaurant, an ongoing food fest or even a mall. The rentals are comparatively low and both the landlord as well as the curator reap benefits.
“These pop-up restaurants are established generally for around six months in the mall premises on minimum guarantee and revenue sharing basis. It helps us in knowing the taste of our customers and if it becomes a hit then it also becomes a crowd-puller for the mall,” says Executive Director, Select Citywalk, Yogeshwar Sharma.
Pop-ups are not just a business model to snip expensive real estate costs but can also be experimental spaces that allow chefs to devise new recipes, try out different equipment and techniques to improve old recipes, even expose local foodies to cuisine from another part of the world.
For instance, The Artful Baker, before setting up a shop at Khan Market, started operating as a pop-up restaurant at Select CityWalk.
“The whole idea behind curating a pop-up at Select CityWalk was to offer the masses an authentic and traditional taste of a quintessential European bakery. The menu offered French Peasant, whole wheat breads, Ham and Cheese Croissants and some signature desserts. We saw a huge potential for a high-end bakery brand to grow and evolve. It was the feedback received the patrons that turned out to be fruitful and gave us the confidence to launch an outlet in Khan Market. After it success, The Artful Baker is happy to bring the best in class delicacies for the food lovers of Delhi and plan to open it at other locations as well.” says CEO, Lite Bite Foods, Sharad Sachdeva.
One of the recent pop-up restaurants that has been a star attraction is at Guppy by ai, called Tokyo Mon Amour. It started with a plan to set up shop for just three months, but its astronomic popularity led organisers (read: Naina de Bois – Juzan of Le Bistro du Parc and AD Singh of Olive Group) to extend the duration.
Tokyo Mon Amour’s menu is a mix of favourites from Guppy by ai and Le Bistro du Parc along with some new Franco-Japanese dishes created especially for this pop-up. Culinary reciprocity between Japan and France serve as an inspiration for this pop-up bar.
The charming space which includes the indoor lounge at Guppy has been re-designed by Naina de Bois – Juzan, who has also created the playlist for the bar. Most of the courtyard design with its many facets of the Guppy design has been kept intact.
Speaking about Tokyo Mon Amour, restaurateur AD Singh says, “The collaboration between the beauty of Japanese cuisine and the legacy of the French is very exciting and we are very happy to present to you this magical dance between two of our sister restaurants.”
With the trend picking up at a rapid pace, it seems the future of pop-ups is bright in India. Along with being a crowd puller, pop-ups seem to be the best alternative to full-fledged restaurants.
“Pop-ups help the restaurateurs understand different markets, spreads the awareness about the brand and develops a taste of the consumer. In addition to this, the investment cost is very less as compared to establishing a full-fledged restaurant,” concludes Chef Khatri.

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