Food and bev­er­age (F&B) pop-ups

Hospitality News Middle East - - CONTENTS -

These ephemeral con­cepts can take var­i­ous shapes and forms, from tem­po­rary venues to short-term events or fes­ti­vals. They ben­e­fit from the 'scarcity value' eco­nomic con­cept: the less there is, the more peo­ple want it. With re­tail pav­ing the way for other sec­tors, all types of pop-ups have sprung up around the world. In the Mid­dle East, fes­ti­vals and mar­kets, such as the weekly Ripe Mar­ket in Dubai’s Zabeel Park or Beirut’s Souk El Akel, at­tract thou­sands of vis­i­tors. The food and bev­er­age (F&B) in­dus­try has, of course, tapped into this trend, with pop­ups avail­able in all types of for­mats, from one-off events in­side ho­tels, cafes or res­tau­rants to small trucks.

On a re­gional level, Dubai is, as al­ways, at the fore­front: the eatery Tom&serg in Al Quoz reg­u­larly hosts pop-up con­cepts, such as the meat-lovers favourite, ‘Rule The Roast’, and the Hawai­ian-style tem­po­rary menu, ‘Shaka King’. No.57 Cafe has been the talk of the town as well, ben­e­fit­ing from the suc­cess of the in­vi­ta­tion-only din­ners of ‘The Din­ner Club 57’, show­ing there’s some­thing for ev­ery­one, from low to high-end cui­sine. Even the world-renowned Noma has em­braced the trend, with pop-ups in Copen­hagen and Mex­ico. And with sum­mer around the cor­ner, beach can­teens and cafes are spring­ing up across the re­gion. In the Mid­dle East, cul­tural and re­li­gious events also pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for tem­po­rary venues: Ra­madan ‘khay­mat’ (tents) are tra­di­tion­ally set up to wel­come din­ers break­ing their fast in the evening.

The flex­i­bil­ity of the ephemeral

The list of up­sides to these tem­po­rary for­mats is end­less, from re­quir­ing lit­tle in the way of in­vest­ment when it comes to both time and money and short-term leases to en­abling op­er­a­tors to test and try out a new con­cept. The for­mat can pro­vide brand ex­po­sure and also of­fers plenty of flex­i­bil­ity when it comes to lo­ca­tion, easily set up at a beach, gallery, park, on a rooftop or even in some­one's home. Char­ity and fundrais­ing events fa­vor this for­mat to at­tract crowds. When it comes to res­tau­rants, pop-ups can be a great op­por­tu­nity for up and com­ing chefs to show the world, neigh­bor­hood and po­ten­tial in­vestors, their culi­nary skills. New­bies in the F&B world can turn to a short-lived con­cept to dip their toes in the busi­ness, while more sea­soned ones may well use a tem­po­rary venue be­fore de­cid­ing on a more per­ma­nent lo­ca­tion.

Smaller scale doesn't mean less reg­u­la­tion

How­ever, these ephemeral set­ups have down­sides too, some of which are chal­leng­ing. First, their for­mat re­quires a spe­cific and vi­able busi­ness plan. There are struc­tural dif­fi­cul­ties, too, with lim­ited space for stor­age and cook­ing, while menus need to be cre­ated tai­lored to lim­ited of­fer­ings. Stock man­age­ment also needs to be a key fo­cus. Hy­giene reg­u­la­tions for pop-ups are sim­i­lar to those gov­ern­ing reg­u­lar es­tab­lish­ments and need to be fol­lowed to the let­ter.

More­over, com­mu­ni­ca­tion should be thought through care­fully since mar­ket­ing and so­cial me­dia play a ma­jor role in ad­ver­tis­ing pop-ups. Spread­ing the word both at the right time and to the right peo­ple is key to suc­cess. Al­ter­na­tive PR ideas are ben­e­fi­cial, since cus­tomers go­ing to pop-up venues are of­ten look­ing for some­thing new, or dif­fer­ent, at least, from reg­u­lar brickand-mor­tar res­tau­rants.

And last, but not least, even though pop-up con­cepts seem less for­mal than well-es­tab­lished ones, they re­quire li­censes, in­sur­ances and per­mits whether tem­po­rary or not. Be­ing too light-handed with le­gal mat­ters could ac­cel­er­ate the al­ready short life of your pop-up.

The last few years have shown us that pop-ups are an easy way to gen­er­ate in­ter­est with­out the need for too much ef­fort or long-term in­vest­ment. Nagi

Morkos, man­ag­ing part­ner at Hodema con­sult­ing ser­vices, ex­plains

The Din­ner Club 57, UAE (1,2,3) Chef René Redzepi’s Noma Mex­ico pop-up now open in Tu­lum (4) Ripe Mar­ket in Dubai’s Zabeel Park (5)

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