Restaurant crowdfunding platform EquityEats—which allows investors to earn profits, not just perks—has quickly realized that the best way to get people to back food businesses is for them to actually taste the food and meet the chefs. And so they've been searching for a permanent space where restaurants seeking funding can host pop-ups and residencies for potential investors and the public.
Now they've found that plus some: EquityEats has subleased five floors of 918 F St. NW, the building that LivingSocial used for events and classes before moving out a year ago. The new facility, which includes a basement bar, will be able to host up to five pop-ups at a time when it opens this spring.
"We want it to become a culinary destination," says Steve Lucas, EquityEats VP of strategy and communications. "Think of it as a movie theater but for foodies. You'll be able to buy tickets in advance for a concept that you're interested in. You can read about what's coming soon. And there's going to be things that are new all the time."
Lucas says they're still finalizing agreements with chefs and restaurateurs who will host residencies in the "pop-up megaplex." But he says the venue won't be limited to businesses that use EquityEats. Anyone who wants to host a food pop-up—whether it's one night or several weeks—will be able to take advantage of the space.
"Planning a pop-up can be very complicated for people," Lucas says. "We want this to be a place where all of D.C.'s culinary talent can really showcase their pop-up concepts."
Lucas says they're open to possibly hosting some classes in the demo kitchen, but that won't be the focus. "It all depends on is it good exposure for the entrepreneurs or not," he says. The demo kitchen could also potentially be used for a cafe pop-up. (The tables have pull-down electric sockets where people could plug in laptops rather than mixers.)
EquityEats is building a ticketing system where people will be able to purchase tickets for prix-fixe meals, add on drinking pairings, and indicate allergies ahead of time. Gratuity will be incorporated into all ticket prices to make it a completely cashless operation.
"There's nothing like this in the country," Lucas says. While there have been restaurants that bring in a rotation of guest chefs (like Hogo or EatsPlace), he says there hasn't been anything on this scale. "It could be a game changer for the D.C. food scene because this is something other cities just don't have."
Read more about EquityEats here.
Photo via Douglas Development