Trend Watch: Pop-Up to Temp

The pop-up concept has already evolved to version 2.0, in the form of temporary restaurants: One month it’s Japanese fare, the next, a menu based on the color red. After that, no one knows…except the chef.

Temp restaurants don’t signal the end of popups, but another stage in their evolution. Los Angeles Chef Ludo Lefebvre is taking his LudoBites pop-up on tour while shooting a TV show on the trend.

“Americans like doing business in new and unusual ways,” says Dan Moody, a former lineman at LudoBites. “When a chef has the freedom to play in the kitchen, good stuff usually happens.”

What Happens When (New York, NY)

“Movements” dictate the monthly offerings at this temp spot, currently inspired by New Orleans jazz. “Pop-ups allow guests to experience something for a limited time only, enhancing their experience,” says Chef John Fraser. Other early incarnations were inspired by everything from blushing to a Renoir painting.

NEXT (Chicago, IL)

Michelin star-studded chef Grant Achatz brought an air of Paris circa 1906 to the Windy City in April with the arrival of NEXT, an intimate bastion of culinary perfectionism with a menu that switches quarterly and an online ticketing system that’s already being exploited ($3,000 per ticket on Craigslist).

Radio Africa & Kitchen (San Francisco, CA)

Ethiopian Chef Eskender Aseged has been turning tables Thursday and Friday nights at this Mission District spot, dishing up dinners that blend the exotic flavors of the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.