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Ask the experts – how do I start a supper club?

I am passionate about food and meeting new people and really want to start my own pop up supper club. What are the main things I need to think about when I organise my event?

Supper clubs are a great way of bringing together communities of food lovers who share similar passions and interests, encouraging them to try new and exciting dishes and meet a whole host of interesting people. We spoke to Wen Lin Soh of Edible Experiences, Jess Astbury of Grub Club and Iain Wells of Mr Pigstuff for the lowdown on starting your own.

Location, location, location

There are two main factors to think about when you look for a space: the location and the facilities. You need to consider how easy it is for your guests to get there. How far it is from the nearest station? Wen recommends “shoot for less than 10 minutes. If more, be tougher on your hire price.”

It’s also really important to know what you are getting with your venue hire arrangement: gas or induction hobs? Enough plates and cutlery? Unique features? Jess explains that “you can do wonders with some fairy lights and personalised place holders, but existing personality in the space is always very welcome!”

Get the word out

Word of mouth, customer feedback and social media are your best tools here. Jess explains that it is important to “utilise your existing networks by starting small and local – ask family, friends, friends of friends, put flyers in your venue and around the local area.” Feedback can also be really helpful for spreading the word and Wen advises “don’t be shy to ask happy customers to tell their friends about you. If they had a good time they’ll want to support you. And nothing holds more weight than a recommendation from a friend.”

When it comes to social media, Iain would head towards Twitter for its great visual impact: “images are very important, they show guests what you do in less than 130 characters.”

Top tip: Think about listing your event on a foodie platform, such as Grub Club or Edible Experiences, to make your presence known with existing audiences.

Tickets please

When it comes to how much you should charge for your event, Wen suggests a helpful formula: “Do a practice event. Invite acquaintances and friends of friends (not your family and best friends, who will skew this experiment), or other supper club hosts you like. Tell everyone in advance you’re not charging, but you want them to contribute whatever they think the meal is worth, at the end of the evening. Take the total, divide it by the number of guests. That’s what you should charge for your first fully professional event. It won’t be perfect, but it will be an uncannily reasonable guess.” From there you can alter the price according to your event’s success and the waitlist for each one.

Play that funky music

Music can be a really great tool to set the scene for your supper club. When you choose the soundtrack to your event, Jess recommends to “go with music that fits your brand and make sure that it’s loud enough to create a lively atmosphere but not loud enough so that guests have to shout over the table!”

Likewise, at Mr Pigstuff, Iain makes sure that the music doesn’t drown out the chatter of the group. Pick something that suits the ambience you desire. If you are stuck for tunes, go with what makes you smile! Wen says a happy playlist is a surefire way to inject some sunshine into your food and service, “and your mood, for better or worse, will be infectious.”

Make some memories

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It all boils down to two things according to Iain: “great food, and a good social experience.” It really is the people and the participation that make your supperclub memorable – Jess explains how “guests often go to an event for the menu but leave with the people, conversations and atmosphere lingering the most prominently.” Interact as much as possible, have long communal tables, and make sure the atmosphere is chatty and fun – you are the most important ingredient!

If all else fails, Wen says tell some stories about your food: “Why did you make this dish? How and why do you eat it? Is there a “proper” way to eat it? Who taught you how to make it?” Stories are great for people to talk about in their social media posts or during their chat around the office water cooler the next day.

Got something you’d like to ask the experts?

Email ‘Ask The Experts’ to hello@wearepopup.com with your question and we’ll put it to the panel. 

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