Hotels Take on Pop-Up Restaurant Trend

A dish from Chef Jason Hook's pop-up restaurant at the Crowne Plaza in Wyomissing, Pa.

Now you see them, now you don’t. Considered one of the hottest trends this year, pop-up restaurants and their off-the-beaten-plate appeal are re-energizing hotel dining.

Much like food trucks, pop-ups are mini restaurants that temporarily operate in out-of-the-box places—parks, plazas, and now hotels—according to the National Restaurant Association. Pop-up restaurateurs use blogs and social media to inform underground communities about their locations and menus, the association says.

“The economic downturn put a damper on finding necessary financial backing for new brick-and-mortar ventures, spurring chefs and entrepreneurs to explore new ways to get into the business,” says Annika Stensson, senior manager, research communications, at the National Restaurant Association.


That provides a perfect opportunity for hotels executives, who can take advantage of underused spaces and kitchens without making a large or long-term investment. Pop-ups are also an inexpensive way to boost revenue, entice guests, generate media interest, and increase brand recognition.

“One benefit of hosting a pop-up restaurant in a hotel is to draw more local traffic, as the core clientele of a typical hotel restaurant is travelers and tourists,” Stensson says. “It can also add excitement to marketing efforts, as the temporary nature of a pop-up adds an air of urgency and exclusivity to visitors.”

Here are three recent examples of pop-up restaurants at hotels:

Crowne Plaza, Wyomissing, Pa.
Chef Jason Hook, owner of H2O Kitchen, partnered with Craig Poole, general manager of the Crowne Plaza in Wyomissing, Pa., to open a series of themed, one-night-only pop-up restaurants. The first was held this spring, and another six were held throughout the summer.

Hook, who was looking to gain recognition in the area, brought his culinary skills and own wait staff, while Poole, who wanted to create a “cool attraction” at the Crowne Plaza supplied the kitchen, banquet spaces and additional staff when needed. The collaboration was a win-win, they said.

Crowne Plaza, which has a signature restaurant, Prime, received no direct financial gain, however, Poole said he’s happy with the publicity and brand exposure the pop-up generated. “I knew it would be a great thing to do because I knew it would give Crowne a new flavor and create a different experience for guests,” he said. “It was really inspiring.”