Seattle is undoubtedly a foodie city. We boast the talent of household-name chefs such as Tom Douglas, Ethan Stowell, and Renee Erickson. We have magazines, newspaper sections, and blogs focused on dining around the city. With so many established food options however, competition for up-and-coming restaurateurs is high.
And then there’s the location issue. Not everyone with a creative food vision can necessarily afford a storefront establishment or have the resources to operate a full restaurant. These culinary masterminds must get creative in finding ways to present their food to the public. The solution? Pop ups.
Pop ups are temporary shops or restaurants designed to create intrigue, demand, and limited-time public exposure for a product, brand, or food. They are often launched inside other businesses in collaboration with that business owner. On the food front, chefs will often cook in the kitchens of established restaurants and add their food to a designated pop up menu offered at limited times.
Many previous restaurant pop ups in Seattle generated enough demand as temporary businesses to expand into permanent establishments. The brand new Gnocchi Bar in Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square’s Kraken Congee, opening Spring 2015, are among new restaurants that started as pop ups. Mmmhmm Coffee operated as a pop up for most of 2014 before forming a permanent partnership with Ballard’s Hilliard’s Brewery. Rachel Coyle of Coyle’s Bakeshop sold handmade pastries and treats from a pop up at Fremont’s cookbook shop Book Larder until settling into her brick-and-mortar location in Greenwood in March 2015.
Exploring these pop ups can be a great way to support exotic and creative foods from up-and-coming chefs in the city. Here’s a roundup of current and upcoming local pop ups. Act fast!
Rodeo Donuts at Cupcake Royale in Ballard: Cupcake Royale’s pastry chef Nicki Kerbs is experimenting with a new pastry medium, selling brioche donuts at the Ballard location starting at 7am daily.
Café Juanita at Lark in Capitol Hill: James Beard Award-winning chef Holly Smith of Kirkland’s revered Café Juanita was hesitant to halt business during the Kirkland location’s renovation, so she moved her restaurant to Capitol Hill and serves a modified menu four nights a week. Smith recently announced the pop up will be open on this side of the city through June, so make your reservations!