With The Grid‘s recent announcement that La Carnita is taking over the space above Lou Dawg’s on King West to bring us an Americana restobar, we got to thinking about how pop-up all stars are changing the culinary game in Toronto and, for all intents and purposes, are literally taking over the city one delicious bite at a time. Here are a few things up-and-coming cuisine creators can garner from these success stories…
If It’s Been Built, They Will Go
Get involved in as many events as you can. Don’t try to start your own from the get-go; piggyback off the success of foodie favourites like the Toronto Underground Market, TO Food Fest, The Stop’s Night Market, etc. They’ve already cultivated mass audiences who flock to their shindigs, so get in on the action and get your name out there, one sample size at a time. La Carnita can get away with events like Uno and Dos thanks to their longevity. You’re not them… yet.
We’re done with new Italian restaurants and concepts popping up. And we can only eat so many tacos in a week. (Sorry!) Go after an underserved niche market that will bode well for building intriguing commentary on the social media waves. La Carnita did well in this regard as they helped incite the bubbling under taco trend before there was a soft shell shop on every corner. When Fidel Gastro came onto the scene, suddenly gourmet sandwiches were popping up on menus all over town. See a growing trend and capitalize on it before it hits critical mass.
Keep Us Wanting More
So you start a pop-up and gain acclaim and fame amongst the foodies of the city. You’re setting up your stand at events around town and enjoying the high that comes with 20-minute lineups circling your station. Don’t fall prey to the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality and stick to your original offerings. We’ll get bored. You can keep the same concept, but craft new flavours at each event so those of us who’ve tasted your treats will want (and need) to go back for more.
Be Consistent! Be, Be Consistent!
So many new pop-ups collapse under pressure at massive foodie events. It’s not their fault per se, but instead of sticking to one or two amazing items that can be easily expedited, they’re going for the gold before they’ve even finished their training. Smart cookies make better cookies, so take the time to get your feet wet so you don’t ruin your rep before you’ve even built one. We’ll forgive you for a misstep if we’ve come to love you and your food… but spurn us on the first try and it’ll be near-impossible to win our attention back.
Don’t Dis Your Courage and Become Discouraged
Going the entrepreneurial route is commendable to be sure, but becoming an overnight success story is so 2011 it hurts. In just a few short years, the food scene in the city went from burgeoning to oversaturated like cewebrity porn tapes. If you don’t get the big draw right out of the stable, don’t panic and react by immediately switching your business plan or culinary offerings. If you believe in it enough, it will work out one day. Be persistent, be engaging, and ask for feedback from foodies before you go off on an unpalatable tangent!