How to Host a Pop Up Dinner Party
Unlike their brick and mortar counterparts, pop up dinners cater to a niche audience. They are ephemeral and intimate, which creates an emotional connection with diners.
Similar to restaurants, pop ups must have proper restaurant documentation in order to avoid fines and fees. This includes licensing and permits, which varies by state.
The location of your pop-up dinner party is an important part of the planning process. Make sure that it has sufficient space for the number of people you expect to attend, and meets all of the food safety guidelines required by your municipality.
Talented creative chefs with little financial backing can use a pop-up restaurant to build their brand and establish a presence, while existing restaurateurs can test a new concept with limited risks. The popular Diner en Blanc, for example, is returning to NYC this September after a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keeping the location of the event a secret until just before it starts is an effective way to generate excitement and anticipation amongst guests. You can also use social media to promote the event.
Decide if your pop up dinner will have a theme; this can influence your menu, decor and drinks list. For example, a South American influence could lead to Peruvian ceviche and Pisco sours served in a sheltered spot at the beach dressed with Inca inspired vibrant colours and baby succulents.
You can also host a sushi night where you ask everyone to make their favourite roll potluck style. Set out some bamboo rolling mats and some Nori seaweed sheets and enjoy the feast!
Or you can host a Masquerade theme dinner where guests wear masks, play games like “name that Vampire” and enjoy a blood red decor palette. You can even add fun witchcraft items such as crystals, sage smudge sticks and spell books for a magical feel! Get details on this enchanting party HERE.
Once the location and theme are decided it is time to start thinking about the menu. This can be tricky since pop ups often have limited kitchen equipment and space to store ingredients. It is a good idea to limit the menu and focus on dishes that are easy to plate up.
For example, if you are planning to have South American influence you can serve Peruvian ceviche and pisco sours or Cinnamon sugar churros. You can also dress the tables with Inca inspired vibrant colors and baby succulents to give your guests a taste of South America in their backyard.
On a recent Sunday, Stephanie Bonnin, a chef from Colombia, converted her railroad apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn into an impromptu dining room for 20 of her friends. This was a one-off dinner party that doubled as an informal culinary seminar and intimate anthropology.
There’s something universal about a dinner party: a group of strangers seated around a table, clinking glasses and reminiscing over food. It’s a time to connect, inspire, uplift, or just enjoy each other’s company.
Whether it’s a chef trying out new recipes or an opportunity to lure investors for their next project, pop-up restaurants are popping up all over the country. One of the most popular is Dinner Lab, which offers members a one-of-a-kind experience for an annual fee.
At Further Food Stuff, a pop-up from chefs Dan Amighi and Patrick Gaggiano, the duo aims for a balance of professionalism and spontaneity. To do so, they limit the number of guests to 25, so each can get individualized attention. They also keep the menu simple and use a lot of local produce and wine.
If you’re hosting a dinner, make sure your staff is properly trained to serve guests. They will be the face of your brand, and you’ll want them to be courteous and attentive to create a positive experience for your guests.
Advertise your pop up restaurant with posters and social media posts. This is the cheapest way to market your event and let potential customers know what you’re offering.
The rise of pop-up restaurants is creating opportunities for chefs who want to showcase their skills without the financial burdens of a brick and mortar location. It also allows them to test new concepts without the risk of losing money. If the pop-up restaurant finds success, it can even become a permanent eatery! That’s a win for everyone involved.