Is It Really Just a Trend or Is It Here to Stay?
Underground supper clubs, pop-up diners, guerilla cheffing, pop-up restaurants; this growing trend of fine dining experience has been called many names over the recent years. Typically, pop-up restaurants operate from private homes, abandoned factories and office spaces, closed parking lots, and other similar locations, and only during festivals and special events. The recent global economic recession gave rise to a dining experience that has become a worldwide trend.
What are Pop-Up Restaurants?
This phenomenon is not really a new thing. During the noughties (2000s), both in Australia and Britain, pop-up restaurants became very popular among food enthusiasts seeking new dining experiences. Similar concepts existed in the US and Cuba during this time period, with social media playing a major role in providing information and boosting awareness.
Pop-up restaurants are not all about fine dining experience. Food trucks, for instance, is just one form of pop-up dining. These pop-up diners are common in Metro Manila, Makati, Cebu, Davao, and even here in Cagayan de Oro. If you’re familiar with the Hawaii Five-0 TV show reboot, then you’ve probably noticed one of the characters, Kamekona, who owns Kamekona’s Shrimp Truck. This is a type of pop-up restaurant that offers good food (different variants of shrimp delicacy, actually), great ambiance (oceanside view), and opportunities to meet new friends and fellow food lovers.
Pop-up restaurants like food trucks are a good way for freshmen restaurateurs, green chefs, and young professionals to stretch their wings and gain more experience in the food service industry. Young chefs and entrepreneurs can hone their business and food preparation skills, experiment with new dishes without the risk of losing huge capital. Pop-up restaurants help show what chefs with great potential can do and what they can offer in terms of providing a good dining experience, all the while trying to look for potential investors willing to provide financial backing for their next big culinary idea.
Young chefs and restaurateurs running their own small pop-up restaurants have the freedom to do whatever they want and move their concept to whichever direction they deem appropriate. The temporary restaurant concept, which is what pop-up restaurants actually are, can easily adapt to what customers want and what the chef thinks is the next frontier in food service. It’s easier for chefs to play around with ideas and menus to see which ones work and which ones don’t. This is almost impossible to do in a traditional restaurant setting.
Pop-up restaurants are not confined to a single culinary genre. They could be serving all Japanese delicacies one night and serve an entirely different cuisine on the next. In many ways, this is what is so appealing about the temporary restaurant concept, for both the chefs and the eager customers looking for a new dining experience.
The Pop-Up Experience in Cagayan de Oro
In Cagayan de Oro, malls are the favorite location of all kinds of pop-up restaurants, whether in parking lots, activity centers, or even in outdoor recreational areas. These temporary dining stands are usually open only for several nights—usually on the weekends, and are typically hosted by already existing restaurants looking for more exposure. Barbecue and grilling seems to be the popular theme in many of the pop-up restaurants here in CDO. To be fair, though, there are others that try to provide truly unique dishes and dining experiences.
Take Vjandep, for instance. This family-owned business runs and operates a restaurant in the island of Camiguin called Samuel by Vjandep. Originally, the restaurant was known as Kan-anan sa Parola, which the locals and tourists alike have grown to love and appreciate. A lot of people were saddened to learn about the establishment’s permanent closing. With the restaurant’s re-opening in Camiguin, the people behind Samuel decided to bring their dishes to Cagayan de Oro by hosting a pop-up dinner in the city. Guests were treated to an actual fine dining experience under the night sky of CDO. Diners enjoyed a feast of truly delectable dishes prepared by the hardworking Samuel culinary geniuses.
So, if you believe that pop-up dining is merely a trend, think again, because people seem to enjoy it and more and more restaurateurs are jumping on the bandwagon. And if I were a betting man, I would bet that pop-up restaurants are definitely here to stay.