Influencers are already becoming tired of pop-ups, but there are plenty of other things you can do to shake things up. Daniela Walker explains
They still want to be excited and delighted by a hospitality experience, but they are bored of novelty gimmicks. The most intriguing part of a pop-up is the blink-and-you'll-miss-it appeal, the exciting sense that if you don't go soon it will be too late, but at the same time, people appreciate the comfort of a local haunt. So now we are seeing the best of both worlds in the form of permanent restaurants with pop-up chefs. Taking inspiration from artist-in-residence programmes, chefs-in-residence breathe new life into a site, bringing new food, concepts and flavours to guests in a location that remains familiar.
The intrigue of having a rotating roster of chefs and concepts feeds into the greater foodie desire to be educated. Chefs are using tasting menus not to show off their egos, but to get closer to their diners and show them flavours and nuances in food they may not have experienced before. At Maude in Los Angeles, they do this by focusing on a 'hero' ingredient each month, which finds its way into every dish of a nine-course menu, while in dessert-only restaurant Dessance in Paris, sweet flavours are deconstructed in a four-course tasting menu.
Customers are looking to optimise their wellbeing while dining out too. Restaurants that provide mood dining - mood-altering food and drink - will appeal here. Melbourne's Serotonin Eatery does this perfectly, creating menus to release 'happy hormones'.
With overzealous concepts and pop-ups rampant, the industry needs to entice customers with new propositions that make them want to walk in through the door.
Tips to entice
- Introduce chef residencies. Pop-ups can now get little more than a weary nod, but pop-up chefs bring a breath of fresh air and excitement, signalling it's a place where new flavours and dishes can be found.
- Provide an education. Combine chefs- in-residence with tasting menus that focus on educating the diner with familiar ingredients presented in surprising ways. This is an innovative format that will stimulate regulars and attract interested newcomers, too.
- Have a focus. Treat your diners with respect and surprise and delight them, rather than confuse and frustrate them. That means serving a selection with a single, clear story to tell. With Dessance it is the reinterpretation of classic desserts, while Maude spins a narrative about the joy of learning.
- Create mood dining. People are increasingly searching for balance and happiness and looking to food as a way to achieve that. Find a way to blend this desire with scientific fact to offer consumers ways to enhance their moods through natural and legal highs.
- Avoid gimmicks. We live in an age where people trust science above all else, so if you invite your customers to experience mood dining, make sure that there is truly some mood dining to experience.
Daniela Walker is a food and drinks specialist at the Future Laboratorywww.thefuturelaboratory.com/uk