A spokesman for Jamie Oliver has defended the notion that a three-year-long restaurant project that opened in London's Shaftesbury Avenue this week is still a "pop-up".
Oliver opened Jamie Oliver's Diner in Piccadilly on Monday in partnership with "eco" executive chef Arthur Potts Dawson, with a menu focusing on sustainability and homegrown ingredients in a space created by artist Jay Burbridge.
"When the site at Piccadilly Circus came up, I wanted to use it to open a pop-up diner, with great food values and ethics at its heart," said Oliver.
But bloggers, restaurant critics and operators took to social networking site Twitter to question whether the business could still be described as a "pop-up" - an increasingly popular concept in the restaurant trade - if it was set to be in place for three years.
Blogger Tweets by MelissaFoodie said: "‘Jamie Oliver's Diner to be 3 yr pop-up.' Well, that doesn't give us much time. Best get down there fast, don't want to miss it…"
Guardian restaurant critic Marina O'Loughlin (Tweets by MarinaOLoughlin ) responded by pointing out that a three-year pop-up could also be referred to as a "lease", while Oisin Rogers, general manager of Young's pub the Ship in Wandsworth added: "Pop up, as a concept, like gastropub before it, is now dead. The phrase should be banned."
But when contacted by Caterer and Hotelkeeper, a spokesman for Oliver defended the idea that a pop-up could last three years. "We weren't aware that there was a limited time on "pop-ups" but it really just allows us to create something fun with a bit of flexibility to do something a bit different," he said.
Pop-ups have grown hugely in popularity over the past few years, with many of them going on to become permanent restaurants in their own right. #Meateasy, which appeared for a residency in the Goldsmiths Tavern in London's New Cross Gate following the theft of Yanni Papoutsis's mobile Meat Wagon proved so successful that it spawned three more London sites in the shape of MEATmarket in Covent Garden, MEATliquor in Welbeck Street, and MEATmission in Hoxton Market.
Meanwhile, Flat Iron made the move to a permanent Soho site in December last year, having appeared as a pop-up at the Owl and Pussycat Pub in Shoreditch.
There have even been fine dining iterations of the pop-up, with the Electrolux-sponsored project The Cube in London's Royal Festival Hall, offering the chance to watch a series of Michelin-starred names like Sat Bains, Daniel Clifford and Claude Bosi prepare meals for just 18 guests between October and December last year.
But the lengthening residencies of some pop-ups has caused commentators to call the validity of the concept into question. In addition to Jamie Oliver's Diner, Adam Stokes, previously head chef at the Michelin-starred Glenapp Castle, in Scotland, announced in March that he would launch a two-year "pop-up" in Birmingham city centre, ahead of opening a permanent venture.
When is a pop-up not a pop-up? Thoughts from Twitter:
Ross BoyceTweets by Happy_Appetite
Three years is *not* a pop-up! Too many marketing people involved.
It just doesn't sit well - there's too much of a corporate marketing feel to it, and that's certainly not a pop-up…
Tony Carter Tweets by TonyVCarter
Can't see why Jamie Oliver's Diner is a pop-up. 3 years is longer than a lot of permanent restaurants last.
GinaTweets by gi_nav
Pop-ups used to be about using vacant properties. Now it's just testing concepts.
Mourne Seafood (Tweets by mourneseafood )
With 20% vat nearly all new restaurants could be classed as pop-ups
SmokinKonesTweets by SmokinKones
It seems people are using the phrase for either a temporary restaurant where the landlord won't commit long-term, or where success is uncertain.
Having said that, it's an economical way of testing the waters prior to a new adventure in a new city/country.
The Restaurant GuyTweets by Rest_Guy
I think the initial concept has been lost certainly… A #popup was for temp or one off promotion/celebration.
Unique but permanent does not a pop-up make. #mythoughts. A new word is needed, perhaps, restaurant.