If you've stumbled across this blog post, chances are that you either a) love us (the one we hope for!) or b) are looking to get into the pop-up/supperclub game yourself. Well you've come to the right people; this post is all about how we go about finding a space to cook our food for people without smashing up the innocent little piggybank.
We have been cooking for people through our pop-up restaurant Smoke & Salt for close to a year and a half now. When we initially set up this concept, the idea of having a restaurant pop-up for a very short basis was a pretty new idea. Our thought process combined both the now hugely successful home-style supperclub, with a restaurant quality atmosphere and food offering. We took inspiration from the likes of Roganic and Thomas Keller's French Laundry pop-up at Harrods but we had neither the reputation nor the funding to put on an event of that scale. We merely wanted an affordable platform to assess whether people would like our food.
We have built up a base of contacts over time which makes finding a space easier - but still not easy. Property in London is ever increasing in value and this means those who do own their own commercial spaces are justifiably sceptical of lending their space to other businesses. It is, in recent times, becoming a bit easier (thankfully) as more forward-thinking business owners can see it as a way to make a little extra profit while maintaining the functionality and integrity of their space, and I like to think great pop-up chefs, owners, workers etc. are all helping with this cause by running great businesses built on great ideas.
So you think you have a great idea...?
Running a pop-up allows you to test you business ideas, products and models on the paying public while keeping costs to a minimum. This is a little bit of a game-changer in business terms and you may even become successful enough to receive crowdfunding for your idea (read about that revolutionary business model here). But onto space - we have happily seen for ourselves the increase in number of different channels available to help one find a pop-up space, and here are some of our favourites:
1. Grubclub - Grubclub is, and I think will always be close to our hearts. Liv, and her amazing team helped us set up, organise and pull off our first pop-up. The team are on hand most of the time to help with queries and they always have a list of contacts with potential spaces, to hand. Check them out, I'd strongly recommend their platform if you are new to the pop-up scene.
2. We Are Pop Up - WAPU have a powerful site which allows you to create a profile as a 'Retailer' or 'Space Owner', their platform can then aid with matching businesses to available locations based on a number of different factors including price range a business sector. The thing we like about WAPU is that they send us regular newsletters and emails containing new spaces that have been chosen specifically to our business. If you are actively seeking a pop-up space, I'd recommend you sign up to this site.
3. Appear Here - Appear Here have a sleek, user-friendly website that lists a variety of different spaces that are not only London-based but UK wide. Appear here also have a substantial amount of content to read through - produced by their in-house team - about getting started, previous success stories etc. A lot of the spaces are geared up to events and retail so make sure you filter results and are sure on what you're after. As I said; Appear Here do have a lot of spaces on offer, so definitely worth a browse.
Finally, good old fashioned pounding the streets has got us spaces in the past. If you know your pop-up needs to be in a certain location or you know a great little cafe that could be the perfect spot, don't hesitate to go in and talk to the owner! Keep your budgets in mind when negotiating price, remember it is usually effort-free profit for their business, so it needs to work for both parties! I hope this helps and if you have any other queries or questions drop us a line as firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our form on the website. A.
PS. Our next popup will be on the Valentine's weekend in February and we've got tickets available now through our Bookings page or through our Grubclub page. If you think you know someone who should be there please share this with them or let us know in the comments section below.