A pop-up restaurant is a chance to bring one’s wildest ideas to life, without being limited by the real-world concerns of an actual business. As a result, there have been some truly amazing ones over the years that have explored controversial themes and improbable locations (and also, fandom). Here are six of the most unusual pop-up restaurants of the last few years.
Eating your last meal
What: Death Row Dinners
Where: London, U.K.
Concept: “Enjoy the idea of the last meal, without the nasty execution bit” is how this pop up explained itself when it launched this week; that statement has now been taken down following a social media backlash of epic proportions which nearly caused the organizers to cancel (they didn’t). The five-course meal will offer twists on some of history’s most popular and unusual death row dinners, and the website promises that three diners will be chosen at random for follow-up “last meals” to be prepared in their homes.
Status: Despite the public outrage, the pop up will take place as planned from October 24 to November 29. In an online statement, the organizers apologized for ruffling feathers but pointed out that this isn’t the only potentially offensive attraction out there, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to come. Touché. (Photo: Death Row Dinners via Buzzfeed)
Eating by yourself
Where: Amsterdam, Netherlands and Antwerp, Belgium
Concept: Solitary dining once implied that you had no friends, but this pop up promotes it by serving four-course meals at single-person tables. Eenmaal, which means “one time” and also “one meal,” was launched by two design/creative agencies in June 2013 to get people thinking about the value of disconnecting once in a while. The concept has been such a hit that it’s expanding to Antwerp later this year.
Status: Eenmaal reopens for a two-week run in Amsterdam from November 22 to December 6, and then three nights in Antwerp from December 12 to 15. Plus, the BBC reports that London, Berlin, and New York locations are in the works. (Photo: Facebook/Eenmaal)
Eating in the air
What: Dinner in the Sky
Where: Currently in 47 countries.
Concept: In 2007, a Belgian marketing company hosted a private, one-off event in which they suspended a table of diners 50 meters (165 feet) in the air from a crane. The demand for more aerial dinners was so huge that the company franchised the experience; it’s now available in a number of cities around the world. Usually a table of 22 people and three servers is hoisted up, although sometimes a second crane will provide live music or other entertainment.
Status: Dinner in the Sky is by request, and is usually used as a marketing tool for product launches and other special events according to Entrepreneur. However a permanent restaurant is set to open in Las Vegas this year that will ferry tables up and down via a permanent tower instead of a crane. We can’t think of a better permanent home for this over-the-top banquet. (Photo: Dinner in the Sky)
Eating on a frozen river
Where: Winnipeg, Canada
Concept: Each January since 2013 an outdoor fine dining restaurant has appeared at the junction of the frozen Assiniboine and Red Rivers. The pop-up was conceived by the director of RAW: Gallery and chef/owner of Deer + Almond restaurant, and it celebrates the brutal northern winter as well as food and design. The structure’s architecture is chosen through an open competition, and each night Deer + Almond chef Mandel Hitzer cooks with a guest Winnipeg toque.
Status: The pop up is back for three weeks in 2015, from January 24 to February 13. If you can’t beat the winter by fleeing to the Caribbean, you may as well embrace it. (Photo: Cargo Collective)
What: Muru Pops Down in Tytyri
Where: Lohja, Finland
Concept: Helsinki’s Muru restaurant set up shop in the Tytyri Mine Museum in 2012 as part of World Design Capital—a biennual event that promotes and recognizes design in different cities around the world. For two and half weeks the subterranean canteen served meals 80 meters (260 feet) below ground; Eater reports that guests were required to wear hard hats on their descent to dinner.
Status: The one-time pop up went down in September 2012, and has not risen from the depths since then. (Photo: Facebook/Muru Pops Down in Tytyri)
Eating on a famous landmark
What: The Cube by Electrolux
Where: Brussels, Belgium; Milan, Italy; Stockholm, Sweden; and London, U.K.
Concept: This modernist dining room did it’s own version of a Contiki tour, taking up residence atop a string of European sights. The haute kitchen hosted multiple Michelin stars in these impressive locations, including Claude Bosi (Hibiscus, London), Daniel Clifford (Midsummer House, Cambridge), Mathias Dahlgren (Bon Lloc, Stockhold), and Magnus Ek (Oaxen Krog & Slip, Stockholm).
Status: The Cube spent 6 months on top of London’s Royal Festival Hall, four months above Stockholm’s Royal Opera House, four months at Milan’s Piazza del Duomo, and three months overlooking Brussel’s Parc du Cinquantenaire before retiring at the end of 2012. (Photo: Electrolux)