Student craft unique pop-up restaurant experience

Pop up

Explore how our International Hotel Management students planned, organized, ran and evaluated a pop-up restaurant concept and operation.

In recent years, the concept of pop-ups has exploded in popularity. Pop-up galleries, events, venues, bars and eateries have become a regular sight on urban streets. Many restaurants and on-premise establishments now have multiple bar areas, and at outdoor events it’s almost a guarantee that you will see a pop-up bar or similar unique concept.  

Even some retail venues have begun to incorporate a pop-up concept as a way to build excitement and buzz around new product launches, major announcements and inspiring innovations within the food & beverage industry.       

A pop-up is the perfect space to experiment with creative ideas, new recipes or unique dining concepts, because it’s a short-term project with low risks and costs. A restaurateur can receive immediate feedback without putting their business on the line.  

A pop-up restaurant challenge 

In 2021, a new challenge was set for our Master of International Hotel Management students in Adelaide to construct an idea in response to the growing trend of the pop-up concept. This meant our students were tasked with crafting a unique, single evening pop-up restaurant experience for a limited number of guests. 

Under the expert guidance of Mr. Francisco Navarrete, Learning Facilitator, Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School at Torrens University Australia (BMIHMS), students had to learn and implement all the processes needed to plan, organize, run and evaluate a pop-up restaurant concept and operation, from beginning to the end.                 

This is an important lesson, because all aspiring hospitality professionals need to be able to conceptualize, run and evaluate food and beverage operations in the context of an ever-changing market. For the students to operate their pop-ups successfully, they needed to develop some new professional skills, which included negotiation, communication, collaboration, evaluation, flexibility, organizational, and teamwork skills. It was no easy task, but they took to it with energy and commitment.  

The first event they hosted was a unique dining experience, themed as a vegan-focused sustainable lunch. This was held at the Joy of Flora café, where 20 guests experienced an eventful ά la carte lunch menu.  

The menu chosen consisted of gluten-free house-made spring rolls as a starter, followed by the guests’ choice of either the Asian-style vermicelli buddha bowl, which was packed with flavour and fresh seasonal ingredients, or the Thai green curry, which was vibrant and flavoursome thanks to the addition of oyster mushrooms, eggplant and fresh green beans, and a blend of rice.  

Last served was the vegan burger, containing a seasonal veggie patty made with a combination of beetroot, mushrooms, quinoa and a house-made spinach burger bun topped with creamy mayo -- a truly delicious way to do your bit for the environment. 

Joy of Flora Café 

The second pop-up event held at the beautiful Ambassadors Hotel with 30 guests in attendance was themed as a South Australian wine masterclass. On the day we were privileged to be joined by Ms. Priscilla Hennekam, our guest sommelier, who delivered the wine masterclasses to guests.  

During this event, students had the opportunity to put into practice a range of newfound skills, from front-of-house to logistics. The night began with guests being greeted by all students on arrival and served an exceptional selection of our internationally renowned South Australian wines. Once seated, guests undertook an informative wine tasting experience guided by Priscilla, followed by a selection of food choices matched against each wine in a cocktail-style format. The evening was a great success, and guests were thrilled to participate in this delicious masterclass.  

South Australian Wine Masterclass - Ambassadors Hotel 

Both assessments were a triumph for students and a delight for all who participated. Students applied their learning under pressure in these real-world settings, where they could receive direct feedback from guests.  

The pop-up events allowed students to challenge themselves, put into practice new soft and hard skills necessary for their growth in the hospitality industry and gain some invaluable experience, working as a team.       

Hospitality businesses in 2021 must be flexible, creative and responsive to the experiences of guests and diners in order to thrive. Experimental assessments, such as these, open students' minds to new possibilities and teach them to think outside the box.  

The success of these two pop-ups was expressed not only in the praises coming from guests on the day, but also through positive feedback from the students themselves.        

The pop-up assessments were also designed to have a positive impact on the local community, with each event focused around sustainability and sourcing produce from small businesses and local suppliers. Plus, all profits went to charity as part of the BMIHMS program of support for the Sala Bai Hotel School, in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Proceeds from both events totalling $219 were donated to the school, helping students there receive the best possible education and entry into a hospitality career.
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