Space for Hire: Mastering the Pop-Up"The seven or eight hundred people who come to this pop-up restaurant are the only people who will ever be able to say they experienced that. And in New York that's super exciting."
New Yorkers can be tough to please. But Alan Philips makes it his business to stay ahead of the trends in nightlife and entertainment. His SKY Group advises some of the big names in hotels, casinos, restaurants and nightclubs, helping them to drive savvy and sophisticated fun-seekers through their doors. He also writes a blog, "Cocktail Hour," targeting young, urban foodies, along with his industry counterparts. Now he's engaged in an exciting new dining concept: the pop-up restaurant.
re:discover: So how does this work?
Alan Philips: We're in the midst of a pop-up right now, which has been mayhem. We're in day two, which is our last night. Grand opening, grand closing. This one is at the Hotel on Rivington. We took over their restaurant. We redesigned it. We basically reconstructed it. Now it is a Roaring '20s speakeasy and steakhouse.
What fun is that!
It has been great. We never expected people to show up in costume. I'd say 60 or 70 percent of the people are showing up in costume. It's awesome.
How are they finding out about it?
We have a partnership with Gilt Groupe. So they are part of the sales team. Then we have a website, thepopuprestaurant.com. We have about 5,000 members to that website who are specifically looking to participate in these types of events. We also have about 15,000 people on our general mailing list.
When did you start doing this?
I've been doing events for 12 years. But my first pop-up restaurant didn't open until May. This is the third one, and we have eight more in the planning stages. So now they'll start rolling out nationwide.
What gave you the idea for pop-up restaurants?
I have a real passion for entertaining. I like to have people over, whether it's to my house or my family's house. Wherever it is, I like to cook and share my passion for food and wine with people. So that passion really translated into this idea of, originally, a roving dinner party. And then with the hotness of the pop-up concept, the idea of a pop-up restaurant seemed like something the market would really react to and something I had to take advantage of.
So what about when they close? All that hard work!
It's depressing. You're just getting up and running. You're just getting your feet under you. To be honest, the first night of a regular restaurant they might be at 50 percent capacity. We're at, like, 120 percent capacity. So by the time you work out all the kinks, you're closed. … But the fact that we are able to do this, it really creates a special experience that only a small group of people can share. And so the seven or eight hundred people who come to this pop-up restaurant are the only people who will ever be able to say they experienced that. And in New York that's super exciting because everyone in New York wants to tell everyone else they got to see something [that others] didn't get to see.
Check out Alan's New York.