4 Inspiring Ways to Cash In On the Pop-Up Restaurant Trend


22 FEBRUARY 2019


Pop-up restaurants are arguably one of the most inspiring trends to emerge in the food and beverage trade in many decades. From stretch tents perched on the edge of dew-dappled meadows in Elgin, to food trucks at off-the-grid weddings in the Tankwa-Karoo, there is a lot to be said for exploring new frontiers. If you’ve been looking for a way to revolutionise your restaurant offering, it might be time to think outside the brick-and-mortar box and give yourself a larger canvas to play on. Here are a few inspiring ideas to get those creative juices flowing.

Create An Immersive Experience

These days, diners like to be challenged; they want to be drawn into an experience. As such, restaurants that go all out to create immersive experiences are enjoying some well-deserved time in the limelight. Have a brainstorming session with the decision-makers at your eatery and come up with something that will allow your diners to peak behind the curtain and get in on the action. If you want to keep your day-to-day operation going without interruption, a great way to do so is to take your experiences off-site. Perhaps one of your chefs or owners is an avid cycler who could accompany other cyclists on a fit-foodie adventure through your region over a matter of days, with stay overs in safari tents along the way? Or maybe your baker could host a DIY bread-baking and yeast cultivation workshop on days when the restaurant is normally a little quieter. You could even collaborate with a nearby farm to serve a breakfast in a field once a month. The options are endless, so make a point of leveraging the talents of your staff members.

Get Outside & Go Foraging!

Since 2010, when the foraging trend first surfaced as a result of the sustainable New Nordic approach to cooking at celebrated restaurants like NOMA, foraging fever has spread significantly. Throughout Scandinavia, forward-thinking eateries like Agrikultur in Stockholm began inviting guests to sit down to inventive dishes that include moss, algae, meadow flowers and dried seaweed that had been brewed, fermented or cooked over open fires. In Sweden, the founders of Food Studio Oslo now invite diners to forage barefoot and sit down to campfire banquets that feature the likes of fish served with ants! Lemons don’t grow well in that region, so they use the acidity of the insects to cure the fish ceviche-style. How amazing?

Back in South Africa, we’re happy to report that our local makers have taken to foraging like so many fish to water. After all, if the Scandinavians can brave the frigid temperatures and fickle terrain up there in the north to find awesome stuff in the forest, who are we to twiddle our thumbs and wait for our ingredients to sashay out of mass-market freezers and into our bain-maries? From Foliage in Franschhoek, and La Colombe on Silvermist Mountain Lodge & Wine Estate, to Kobus van der Merwe’s singular Wolfgat in Paternoster, these trailblazing chefs are heading into the wild to gather mushrooms, chestnuts, brambleberries and wild garlic to inspire seasonal menu items. And where better to enjoy these gorgeous meals that under a luxury tent? It might be time to find out more about the naturally-occurring ingredients that thrive in your region, so you can create a space where diners can enjoy a true taste of place.

Buddy Up With Existing Events

You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel completely to make an impact. If you don’t necessarily want to buy a stretch tent or overextend yourself too much initially, a simple and effective way to get your feet wet is to offer your services as food vendor to an existing event. Music festivals, sports events and other annual occasions often require on-site food stalls. This is an excellent way to extend your reach and to tap into a new market with your food offering. Naturally, you won’t be able to serve haute cuisine at a rock show, but with a little creativity your restaurant staples can be adapted to suit the needs of festival goers.

Make The Circle Bigger

Sometimes all you need to liven up your restaurant is a bit of new space. This could be a simple as covering an existing courtyard with a stretch tent, adding some child-friendly activity stations and a qualified minder so your eatery becomes an attractive destination for families with children. Or perhaps you have a very formal vibe on the inside of your restaurant, that you could tone down slightly on your veranda by offering wood-fired pizzas and live music every now and again.

These are just a few of the ways in which you can reinvigorate your restaurant offering with the help of pop-up events and other creative endeavours. Need more advice? We are happy to help!