M ORE and more people are popping down to a pop-up in Brent for good food and entertainment. The movement sees either entire venues operating for a limited period, often seeming to set up shop overnight in unusual or disused locations or, as is more common in north-west London, established premises providing the setting for a one-off cultural, activity or dining experience.
The Shop cocktail bar in Chamberlayne Road, Kensal Rise, has been running pop-up events since it opened two years ago, but has ramped up the number of themed evenings with tapas, Asian cuisine or good old-fashioned roast dinners on the menu. And it is not the only venue doing this.
The Meanwhile Space project, which has rejuvenated Queen’s Parade in Willesden, has taken on a life of its own and has seen various businesses popping-up and popping-down over the last few months and Urban Woot is leading the way.
Yunes De Beauvau, manager of The Shop, said: “We have been running pop-ups since we opened but we would do one or two a month and now we are doing two or three a week.
“We are still trying to figure out what is good and what’s bad and trying to improve the kitchen so really good chefs want to come here.
“When you go to east London they are so far ahead of us in this game as they have been doing it for five or six years, but no one really does it in west London.”
The cocktail bar attracts a huge variety of catering wizards. “You have to get to the level where people want to come to your bar to do a pop-up,” said Yunes.
“We are Kensal Rise, we are not Shoreditch, so we don’t have many things like that, though we are probably the most renowned for it here.
“A lot of the people who do pop-ups come to us through reputation but, at the same time, there are so many trials and errors.”
The bar helps small businesses along because it provides a readymade kitchen and dining area and in return the pop-up venture provides The Shop’s patrons with incredible food without the bar incurring the huge cost of a full-time chef. The problem, however, is getting the word out.
Mike Richardson runs the Rise Guide blog with his partner Zoe Warrington and they have been letting people know about when to catch the best food in the area.
Mike said: “I see it as a nice cheap way for a little business who want to start out in catering to show off their wares, to test the water and have a pop-up here and there.
“It is nice because of the urgency. If something is only there for one night, you are more likely to make the effort.
“They are all over London but The Shop is the one which has the most in this area.
“People always say that the way they found out about pop-ups is through the Rise Guide, as people don’t always know they are there.”
Magella Greene runs Urban Woot, a shop which is part of the Meanwhile Space in Queen’s Parade and invites people to run classes and hold talks in the space, as long as they fit in with the ethos – joyful living in an urban environment.
“We have a drop-in crèche and knitting classes from a local woman as well as sessions on how to genetically engineer your body and sessions on motivation and creating the life that you want,” she said.
“We are also having a talk on bollards of London, which will be hilarious. We are trying to connect people together and finding how to have a joyful life in an urban environment.”
Most of the people who are hosting sessions at Urban Woot just pop-in for a chat and the whole parade has become part of the community.
To spread the word, Ms Greene is launching a listings website and uses a smartphone event booking application called YPlan.
“Most of it has been word of mouth and people coming into the shop,” she said. “I think we have had a massively positive impact on the area.
“A big part of it is that people don’t necessarily know it is here. They don’t think to look at what might be going on.”
To find out about the latest pop-ups in Kensal Rise, visit www.riseguide.co.uk, while listings for Urban Woot can be found at www.urbanwoot.com