The Proof Is in the Pop Up

The Proof Is in the Pop Up

Food & Drink

The Proof Is in the Pop Up


In 2007, experienced French-trained chef Ludo Lefebvre was at a crossroads. He was trying to decide between starting up an L.A. restaurant that that would require a long-term commitment and loads of cash…or going in a different direction.  Instead of working the long hours in the same kitchen day after day, hoping and praying he could develop a following, he decided to open a series of pop-ups. He created LudoBites, restaurants that could “pop up” temporarily around town and stay open as long as a month or two, or as short as one week.

Pop-up restaurants are becoming more popular in the fine-dining sector and could spread to the quick-service segment says Jordan Melnick, writing for

To say that this trend has worked successfully for Lefebvre would be an understatement. LudoBites has created a major stir, and given Lefebvre star status. LA Weekly’s Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic, Jonathan Gold, has name a LudoBite dish as a Top 10 Dish of the Year in 2007, 2009 and 2010, and called it a “Kitchen of Genius.” TIME magazine has called Lefebvre the “Chef of the Future.” He has appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. Today, people wait anxiously for the next LudoBites opening, never knowing where it will pop up or what the menu will be.

The chef can be as free and creative as he likes. Never tied down to one location, he deals with rent on a pay-as-you-go basis. Lefebvre also says that restaurants which are closed at certain times can be perfect venues for pop-up restaurants.

So, is this a new business model with which any category of restaurant could succeed? Well, considering the hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) it takes to open a restaurant, and a pop up can be opened with just a few thousand, I’d say it’s a pretty good bet.  Not only can you try new concepts or menus, but people pay are often willing to pay more for these type of experiential dinners.  

We here at Culturewaves® have been watching a little wave/trend that we call Pop up Lifestyle™ for some time now. It’s a movement in which businesses attempt to intersect with consumers within their comfort zones.  In this case however, it is working for the consumer as well as the proprietor–and working quite well.

For more insights and innovations check out CultureWaves®, the place to go for the latest observations in the World Thought Bank – events, ideas, trends and more. Add your own thoughts about anything in life – entertainment, design, technology, well-being and, yes, food. And, take a look at a few of our other Hot & Cool Trends.

Photo: Ludo Lefebvre’s Facebook


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