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What do you get if you cross a travelling pop-up restaurant with Airbnb?
PlaceInvaders is the pop-up restaurant that quite literally ‘invades’ plush, quirky, and downright fascinating residences across the US – while the owners are away and with their permission of course – to host pop–up dinner parties with the help of top chefs.
Founded by couple Hagan Blount and Katie Smith-Adair and launched in New York in 2014, PlaceInvaders has thus far visited 12 different US cities, hosting pop–up dinner parties in some quite incredible places, including a Shanghai opium den-inspired loft with black painted walls in a former YMCA in Chelsea, New York City, and, amazingly, the Motown Mansion in Detroit (below), the former home of Motown founder Berry Gordy.
“We had a (selfish) idea to try to design a life full of travel and food and access to the world's most amazing apartments,” says Smith–Adair. “We learned, after starting ... that we would also meet some adventurous and interesting friends in the process, including the guests.”
Those guests (up to 25 for each ticketed event) are treated to a five–course meal and unlimited wine and cocktails (they also do brunch), and are usually seated around one large communal table. The diners don’t find out the location of the event until 24 to 6 hours beforehand, thought they are told the general vicinity. Prices vary depending on the event and location.
Though neither Blount nor Smith–Adair are professional chefs, they started out by doing all the cooking and serving themselves, but have since had to enlist the help of pros, including Joshua Hebert of Scottsdale, Arizona's POSH. They often tempt homeowners into taking part by offering a dinner for them and a few friends in exchange for a reduced rental fee or a waiver.
“We make a lot of cold calls to strangers, asking for somewhat strange and audacious favours,” says Blount. “We scan real estate sites and shelter blogs, talk to real estate agents, [and] troll the short–term rental platforms. We’re the ultimate real estate tourists.”