Midsummer Night’s Dream
If your dream is to have your own restaurant, high summer might be the best time to make it come true by venturing into a pop up!
Long, balmy summer nights promise so much and for chef Henrietta Clancy, they delivered.
Henrietta has just celebrated the first anniversary of the launch of her London-based Peruvian pop up, The Last Days of Pisco. While the tongue-in-cheek name is a play on the title of the cult comedy film “The Last Days of Disco”, the ceviche (a South American marinated raw fish dish) and Pisco cocktails (Pisco is a South American un-aged brandy) it serves to a background of South American music make the experience of dining there into a fiesta.
For Henrietta, who left the kitchen after training to work as a food writer and food stylist, the pop up has enabled her to return to her first love of cooking while at the same time and without any real financial investment, trial whether or not running a restaurant might be a career option for the future. Explains Henrietta: “A pop up is something you can do with very little money but a restaurant isn’t.
“A pop up teaches you a lot. I’m enjoying it at the moment and running a restaurant may be a direction I go in later on but I wouldn’t want to be limited to Peruvian food. I’ve holidayed in Peru and I’ve written about Pisco so I themed the pop up to what I know is currently a big food and drink trend. People around where I’ve held ‘The Last Days of Pisco’ events are very receptive to trying new things so it’s worked really well.”
Henrietta made it work by trawling local cafes run as a Monday to Friday daytime business and then asking proprietors if she could rent their premises in the evenings from Friday to Sunday. This gave her an instant certified kitchen. She then applied to the local council for a temporary events licence. Once granted, her friend Jennifer organised marketing and publicity, initially offering invites to friends through word-of-mouth, Facebook and Twitter. This then progressed to advertising on websites promoting pop ups and handing out flyers by the local Tube station.
Henrietta says: “As The Last Days of Pisco’s reputation has grown, we have amassed a lot of followers, who are watching for our events. We managed to keep going through the winter, adapting recipes to serve warm food such as lamb stews. We’re increasingly being invited to attend food and music festivals. It’s good.”
Take a look at Henrietta’s tips for pop up restaurant success here.
Photography by Caro Hutchings www.carohutchingsphotography.com