Heads up, Seattle foodies: Dinner Lab is launching its pop-up restaurant service in your city.
The fast-growing food startup announced today that it is expanding to four metros across America: Boston, Columbus, Minneapolis, and Seattle.
Dinner Lab bills itself as a “social dining experiment” that pairs chefs interested in cooking up new recipes with those hungry for a unique meal and interested in meeting new people. The company acts as a middleman, handling aspects like logistics, marketing, ticketing, and location, while allowing chefs to concentrate on their dishes.
Dinner Lab started two years ago by a group of transplants who had moved to New Orleans. While the soul food is second-to-none in Louisiana, the entrepreneurs grew a little tiresome of eating the same meal every day.
So, they organized an Indian-themed pop-up event with that was “fantastic,” as CFO Bryson Aust explained in an interview.
“It was really diverse with a wide age-range, and it sold out within minutes,” Aust said. “We realized we were on to something with that demand.”
One of the attendees of that original event was a chef at a local pizza joint, and she had a passion for cooking Korean food. Dinner Lab decided to organize another pop-up meal with her, and again, it was a success.
“Consumers loved it, and from a cook’s perspective, they were able to express themselves without the logistical hurdle that pop-ups entail,” Aust said.
Dinner Lab, now operating in 24 cities nationwide, asks members to pay $125-to-$175 for yearly access to meals in all markets. Each five-course meal costs between $50 and $100, which covers an open bar, drink pairings, tip, and tax. The company pays each chef for each event depending on their experience with Dinner Lab and the complexity of the meal.
As often the case with pop-up restaurants, Aust noted that Dinner Lab offers a great way for chefs to gauge response to dishes — particularly because of the unique feedback loop.
“Unlike feedback cards at a restaurant that five percent of people will fill out, we see up to 90 percent of all members filling out our cards,” he said. “This data lets chefs know if a recipe is successful or not.”
Dinner Lab’s launch event in Seattle will be prepared by Seattle native and former Revel chef Daniel Stoller on Feb. 27. Here’s the tentative menu, which is priced at $75 per person:
Course 1: The Obligatory Oyster – soy & mirin reduction | sake-miso butter | dashi compressed dino kale
Course 2: Smoked Turkey Neck Rillette – puffed rye berry | cranberry confit | aquavit mustard
Course 3: Gravlax – mizuna pesto | roasted beet nest | sunchoke puree | crushed hazelnuts
Course 4: Braised Anderson Valley Lamb – alvarez white beans | chantrelle conserva | red eye colatura
Course 5: Carrot Sponge Cake – dulce de leche sorbet | celery heart | olive oil