Pop-up concepts are crowd pleaser with bored diners

Jimmy Garcia talks about the power of pop-ups
Jimmy Garcia talks about the power of pop-ups

Jimmy Garcia, organiser of a series of pop-up restaurants in London and at events, revealed pop-ups are a great opportunity for brands and events organisers to tap into consumers who are falling out of love with conventional dining.

Garcia, who runs his own catering company and has created a number of pop-up restaurants in cafés and art galleries within London, talked about the topic at the London Christmas Party Show today (11 June) as part of a programme of speaker sessions. 

He highlighted examples of his own pop-up dining concepts in recent years. Garcia was approached by artists from Camberwell to operate a space 40 metres from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park during the London 2012 Games. They wanted him to create a pop-up for two nights a week on a mezzanine area, serving lunches and dinners. 

"The Olympic pop-up ended up being fully booked for six weeks," Garcia said. "It was the biggest game changer for us, but it was seriously hard work. We would finish at midnight, and would have to wake up at 3am to get ingredients the next day."

Looking at why pop-up concepts have become so popular, Garcia said: "People are bored of conventional dining, which has caused a massive shift in perceptions among those who are looking for somewhere to eat. People of my generation don’t want to go into a stuffy, fine-dining environment. Pop-ups are a real crowd pleaser."

He added pop-ups should not be a "one-night concept", and ``they have mileage to be sustained over a period of time if done well, with the opportunity to add more dates as part of a pop-up series if there is demand.

Garcia also demonstrated how events organisers and brands can utilise empty or closed spaces to run pop-up concepts. "Lots of venues are closed in the evenings, which you can maximise on. We used a pie and mash shop in Clapham Junction one evening and transformed it into a 45-seater restaurant. While it’s not the most attractive environment, that is what is part of its charm."

He added licensing and laws are changing to accommodate pop-ups. "You can change the use of premises to suit it for these purposes. There are so many initiatives out there, particularly with property companies, which see value in pop-ups."

The pop-up expert said the temporary concept is a great starting point and a good way to grow a brand. "You can create your own restaurant from it, like Meat Liquor has done. I see the value in PR from pop-ups because you can create a new concept every three months and people will write about it because it is fresh."

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