The Economist has recently predicting the death of pop-up restaurants. By using Google figures for the search term "pop-up restaurant" the publication shows that the term has decreased in popularity since it's highest point in January 2011. With that in mind the paper has gone as far as to say that the days of quirky pop-up dining experiences are numbered.
But at FDL we like to look beyond the figures - in 2011 we visited lots of pop-up dining events around the world and believe the fun feeling of attending an event only destined to be available for a short time, the different angles many of the nights take, and the over ruling conviviality of dining with like minded people will prevail.
Here are three reasons we think pop-ups are here to stay:
Pop-ups are not new. The Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes has been running his pop-up restaurant, The Loft Project, in East London for the past five years. Held within the chef's home, the night invites guests to taste menus developed by different chefs while also showcasing the work of local artists and designers. The length of time this event has run for and the fact that bookings are sold out for at least 4 months in advance shows demand for pop-up food events remains high.
There's something special about one off events - the idea that you're part of a social movement and not just sitting down to eat from the same table, menu or chef is a captivating ideal for those in search of something new. The 2011 Young Turks event held by Isaac Mchale and James Lowe was a great example of this.
Held within a soon to be demolished, high rise building, in London's Canary Wharf. The event aimed to showcase high quality British ingredients and also mark the fact that the building would soon be demolished for the London 2012 Olympics. The style, setting and 'no choice' menu was utterly unique and from speaking with guests who attending the event and hearing how much the Young Turks have planned for the future - we're not convinced these one off diners will disappear just yet.
We are social
Facts and figures are great and there's no denying The Economist present some interesting analysis - but Google search is not necessarily the best place to monitor the pop-up revolution. With most of the events being planned, announced and promoted within social media, maybe these platforms would be a better indication of how popular the 'pop-up' experience has become. A quick look at the search term "pop-up restaurant" on socialmention.com, a leading analyser of social media trends, shows that rather than falling out of popularity, people are referencing pop-up restaurants on average every 15 minutes - not bad going for a movement predicted to die out.
From all white picnics in the middle of New York, to events planned by famous designers like Julia Ziegler Haynes, with her monthly pop-up held at home in America, this type of welcoming informal setting is something that's hard, if not impossible, to emulate in a traditional dining setting.
So, although it's hard to argue with some of The Economist's data and analysis, FDL think there's more to the pop-up movement than the numbers and graphs suggest.