Pop-up stores aren’t an entirely new concept, but they’re still as popular as ever. I remember a shop opening at Canal Walk for a few weeks before Christmas one year, selling just one thing: tree decorations. By new year’s eve, the place was gone. They came, they opened, they sold, they closed. Business as usual in the bizarro modern-day economy. Find a niche and fill it quickly.
Pop-up restaurants have followed a similar pattern and emerged wherever the owner chooses to do business that month, week or night. This way of doing business has built up a foodie following across the US and UK, and some of the restaurants have even popped up in entirely different countries. The Delicious Food and Music Festival right here in South Africa, for example, features three pop-up versions of some of the world’s top restaurants. Suddenly, people who may have never had the opportunity to visit an eatery’s physical location now get to have the real thing (chefs, recipes, ingredients, you name it) come to them. Brilliant.
The pop-up supermarket is the newest incarnation of the anywhere-anytime food trend. It’s a gathering of artisinal food and homemade goods producers, who come together to open for business at the same venue for one day only. We found out about one happening in Cape Town on Saturday and went through to join the crowds supporting this last minute shopping spree.
Set up on trestle tables in a Round Table hall in Rondebosch, the place was buzzing. Freshly-brewed coffee in one corner, a wok sizzling with egg fried rice in another. Chocolate fudge tasting here, falafel in pita (drenched in garlic and tzatziki) there. And in every direction, smiles on faces of people who appreciate natural food and homemade crafts enough to bring the whole family along. Even the dog.
The food was every bit as fresh and delicious as what’s on offer at some of the regular markets out there. The atmosphere was laid back – more about having a bite while catching some sun on the grass than being seen at the right place by the right people. And there’s something quite special about being part of something that’s not going to be there again tomorrow.
If you weren’t there this time, keep your ear to the ground and your Twitter app open for the next one. Half the fun of anything pop-up is finding out about it in the first place. The rest comes from getting your face sticky and not giving a hoot because it just tastes SO good. See you next time!