What if we started looking at restaurants as performance venues?
The age of the pop-up restaurant or dining experience is here to stay. DinnerLab is thriving and other companies like Reserve, Sosh, and even media companies are offering one-off dinners with the “hottest” chef in town. But why should these events be restricted to only a handful of chefs and companies throughout a given city?
It’s the experience that is the latest focus in the food world: an entire package that encompasses food, service, ambiance, etc. For instance, I go to The NoMad, because I love how I feel when I am there and love being able to share that feeling and statement with others. So let’s use them as an example not only because of their caliber, but also because Humm and his team have offered Eleven Madison Park as venue a couple years back with their Alinea dinner series.
Individuals who dine at The NoMad have a certain caliber of experience they expect. However, given the current trends in dining, a guest of The NoMad probably frequents other restaurants so long as they are of a similar tier (perhaps Estela, Bâtard, Gramercy Tavern).
So what if the chef of Bâtard decided to cook in The NoMad’s kitchen for a special evening?
Given the demand for pop-up events, dinner clubs, and other exclusive events, a typical NoMad guest would be interested in such an experience as long as it matched their expectations Tickets would be used to mitigate potential lost revenue and priced appropriately depending on the caliber of the event and venue.
But why limit these events to just chefs within the same city? With the NoMad as a venue for chefs all over the world, why couldn’t Paul Qui or Sean Brock showcase their talent to the typical guests of NYC. Just some potential benefits below:
· Local diners satisfy their urge for exclusive experiences
· Out of town chefs experiment in a new market
· Potential exposure for up-and-coming chefs
· Additional revenue for the venue
Like a performance venue, the caliber of artist can fluctuate as long as it’s in a certain range (i.e. Beyonce wont perform at Bowery Ballroom, and Delta Spirit wont sell out MSG). But margins for ticket sales can float along with the visiting chefs; higher for a new chef out of the SW looking for a taste of NYC and its investors, less for John Besh.
While the NoMad is towards the top of NYC in terms of venue’s, why can’t Per Se be the new MSG and feature chefs like Massimo Bottura? Or conversely, why can’t a local haunt like Prune feature some rockstar underground chef out of Portland? Going back to the EMP and Alinea swap, even with ~$700 tickets it was cheaper to attend this one off series than the round trip plane ticket and dinner in Chicago.