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March 20, 2014

What's a POPUP?

Pop_Up_Sm Photo by Garrick Ramirez One of the more unique additions to the Santa Cruz food + drink scene is POPUP, a new concept from Zach Davis and Kendra Baker, the team behind the beloved Penny Ice Creamery and The Picnic Basket. POPUP is tucked into a petit space adjacent to their newly opened Assembly Restaurant. It’s a charming spot with white tile walls, a countertop constructed of vintage wooden produce boxes, a small kitchen and french doors that open onto a patio on Pacific Avenue. Outside, a marquee coyly nods to the venerable Del Mar Theatre a few doors down and proclaims Pop Up! But what is a “POPUP?” The term refers to a makeshift restaurant -- or any business, really -- that “pops up” temporarily in an existing business’s space to showcase a new idea. It’s an easy, low-cost way for chefs to experiment and try new things. Take Anthony Myint for example. He’s credited with popularizing the concept after having spawned two of the nation’s most successful examples: Mission Street Food and Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco. He’s lending his guidance to Zach and Kendra on their new venture. pop_up_boxes Photo by Garrick Ramirez   For Anthony, it began in 2008 in San Francisco’s Mission District. He noticed that a Mexican street food cart was sitting dormant on Thursdays, so he rented it out on those nights and started cooking his own style of street food. It proved hugely popular, and when the lines grew too long, he moved to an underused Chinese restaurant taking advantage of their nights off. That eventually blossomed into Mission Chinese Food which become a nationwide hit. pop_up_storefront Photo by Garrick Ramirez POPUP will provide Santa Cruz with a similar space and opportunity for aspiring talent like Anthony. It will also provide a new lunch option for Downtown. POPUP will offer a frequently-changing daytime menu developed by a rotating list of chefs. It’s a great idea, completely unique to Santa Cruz. Zach and Kendra will identify a guest chef and work with him or her to develop a concept to showcase for 1-3 months. After that, they’ll select a new chef and repeat the process. First up? Anthony Myint. He put together an inaugural menu consisting of the following noodle dishes:

Ono kaw swe - A traditional Burmese dish of chicken, noodles, and coconut milk broth with shallots, ginger, garlic, herbs, and spices. Soba Noodles with Wilted Greens and Mushrooms (With Seared Aged Beef or Vegetarian) - Wilted  greens tossed with buckwheat noodles and served with sautéed mushrooms and a white soy sauce.
pop_up_lights Photo by Garrick Ramirez As good as those sound, Zach and Kendra note that POPUP is not limited to traditional food service. Maybe it will also become a curated food gallery? Or a food event space? I know how Santa Cruz loves it’s food events. Quite frankly, they don’t really know what it’s going to become. They like the idea of it morphing and evolving to fit the needs of the community. The space is always available to rent. It would be a great spot to host events, classes, and openings. Like the food cart in Anthony’s example, it provides an easy, low-cost way for the community to bring ideas and ventures to Downtown Santa Cruz. Sound intriguing? Well pop in and see for yourself. POPUP is slated to open for lunch in early spring. Hours will be 11:30 AM - 2:30 PM. You can keep current with POPUP progress on Twitter at @heypopup and on Facebook.



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