Social Media Whets Appetites for Pop-Up Restaurants
Are you in a restaurant rut? Hungry, but not sure where to go? Often, hitting the old neighborhood standby, with its familiar menu—maybe even a waiter who knows your name—can be the path of least resistance.
But on occasion, a bit of experimentation is in order, and it can be well worth the effort. The best laboratories in the food world right now are pop-up restaurants, in which a well-known chef takes over someone else’s kitchen for a temporary run.
Unfettered of the responsibilities of managing overhead costs or assembling a permanent menu that covers all dietary bases, pop-up chefs let their imaginations run wild. When was the last time you had teriyaki rabbit meatballs with foie gras and yuzu? That was on a recent dinner menu at a pop-up in Los Angeles, in which a French chef took over the kitchen of a casual Asian lunch spot.
So, how does one find out about these fleeting eateries? Social media, of course. Like gourmet food trucks—which rely on food blogs, Twitter, and Facebook to spread word of their ever-changing locations in real time—pop-ups use social media networking as their principal, and often only, marketing vehicle. According to a National Restaurant Association spokesperson, the time-sensitive nature and “experimental aspect” of pop-ups make them particularly ripe for promotion via the blogosphere. And it seems to be working: The trade group has named pop-ups and food trucks as the biggest expected industry trend for 2011.
Indeed, social media are largely responsible for pushing the pop-up concept from the exclusive realm of in-the-know foodies to the mainstream. The Sundance Channel even has a new TV show about pop-ups, “Ludo Bites America.” Now, hardcore foodies are trying to come up with new dining experiences reserved for only the most plugged-in-events such as a “flash mob”-style gourmet dinner served on the New York subway, or a Manhattan version of Paris’ ultra-exclusive Dîner en Blanc, planned for a secret location in August. Will these gourmands succeed in excluding the hungry hoi polloi from their hush-hush “underground” meals? As we know, all it takes is one innocent little Tweet, and the word is out….
Check out more on the business of pop-up restaurants here.