Hi Countertalk Community.
We get asked a lot about how to run a supper club, and now that restrictions are beginning to lift you can finally start planning your own. Here’s a top line how-to which we hope will get you started, getting you out there and doing your thing!
So what is a supperclub?
A supperclub is essentially a ‘pop-up’ restaurant, they are a popular way of testing out your ideas and food without committing to the overheads that come with owning a space. Often the success of a supperclub can lead to a springboard investment if it proves to be popular, as the popularity of a supperclub can help you to get attention from restaurant groups or investors.
When is a supperclub beneficial?
When you want to test your idea out without bearing the massive overheads of a permanent space! They also mean that you can be flexible – they are great when you are working in another job and want to find a space to showcase your skills to an audience! Also these can work really well if you want to take advantage of a very specific date or place. especially if tied around a theme.
Where can you host one?
There are a number of spaces which allow for hosting supperclubs. You just need to get creative, network and keep your ears to the ground! Often places that are shut in the evenings or weekends work really well for this (but check the license!). Think about large coffee shops, pubs, or dedicated event spaces.
Some of our favourites in London include:
The Hackney Coffee Co
Benk & Bo
It’s a great idea to look out for where other supper clubs are being held and, if you like the look of the venue, approach them and ask whether you could appear there too.
How much is it likely to cost?
Typically a venue will charge you a fee for the rent, or a % of the ticket sales. This can usually be negotiated, especially if you want to run more than one. Be sure to clarify this in writing first!
The equipment might REALLY affect your costs. A really cheap venue might end up being really expensive for you if, for example, there isn’t an equipped kitchen in place and you have to a lot of equipment in. Make sure there is sufficient crockery and glassware for your event. If not there are some fab rental companies that allow you to send the stuff back in boxes unwashed – yes, renting is an additional cost, but remember this can save you money on staff, as there will be less cleanup needed. Do your figures carefully!
If the venue has their own staff, they will factor this in to the cost they charge you. If you have to bring your own, work out their wages and hours realistically, and remember that if they are friends and don’t require payment, you may pay for that in other ways – efficiency, experience, professionalism etc. (and if you’re doing this to prove an idea to investors, if the figures don’t work including staffing costs, that might be a red flag).
All these calculations should go into a really thorough sheet, so that you know how much to charge for tickets.
And what should you check for?
Take an inventory of the kitchen beforehand so you know what you need to bring with you and what you need to leave behind. Remember to refer to that list during pack-down! Also do a recce of the kitchen equipment, check whether they use gas or electricity so you can bring the right pans if needed. Take photos of the venue so you can plan logistics for the night.
Check with the company about prep and storage space. You might be able to get some of your deliveries sent there and stored, or you might have to bring everything with you on the day. Check whether they are able to allocate fridge space to you beforehand if needed. This will dictate whether or not you can prep on site, or whether you’ll have to prep in your own space. Work your menu around this – having to transport gastros of half-prepped food might not be possible for you! Or needing to cook everything at the very last minute might affect how many hands you need in the kitchen on the night!
If the venue does have some of their own staff then take them up on it – it usually helps to have people working who know the space well in case anything needs topping up or fixing! Also using their KP is really helpful to put everything back in its place!
Crucially, check the capacity of the space! You should also take a recce at the flow of the space, which will affect the format of your evening. Will it be individual tables, or communal? So will you serve sharing platters, or individually plated? Is there space to mill around for a welcome drink, or does everyone have to get straight to their seats? If it’s the latter, do you have someone who can show them immediately where they’ll be sitting, so they don’t block new arrivals? Remember that the format affects your staffing, and made sure that one fits the other!
How do you set one up?
Our favourite booking platform is RSVP. We like this platform because they take a lower % of ticket sales and pay out the next day. You can also schedule it so it pays your staff for you!
When coming up with a ticket price try to make sure you can cover your costs; venue hire, staff, ingredients, travel etc (as above).
Ask guests to send over any dietary requirements beforehand. It’s a great idea to send a reminder at least a week beforehand, before you do your ordering, to confirm whether they have any requirements or allergies – often people forget to let you know at the time of booking. It’s okay to let people know that you can only cater for very specific dietary requirements (eg veggie, pescatarian and gluten-free only?!) if you don’t feel that you have the capacity to deal with lots of variations. But make this really clear on your booking terms.
Make sure your cancellation terms are really clear at the time of booking. Typically the terms are that refunds are not issued unless you are able to sell on the cancelled space, but this is up to you. Some people choose to issue refunds if a week’s notice is given.
Get creative with who could support you – speak to wholesale suppliers that you might have previous relationships with about offering a wholesale discount for a cash account
And finally, get yourself a really tight marketing strategy! This is so important. Set up an instagram page or promote via your own socials. Utilise your friends and ask them to spread the word! One of the reason that it’s useful to use an established venue which is closed at the time you’re using it (rather than a dedicated events space) is that they may have an established audience and promote your appearance via their own networks. But make sure you clarify this beforehand and don’t take this as a given!
It’s a give-and-take, your marketing strategy can be a part of the proposal that you give to a venue too; if you can prove that you are able to provide them with really good coverage, this may affect the price charged. But be honest – remember that the best promotion you can have is a good reputation.
Promote promote and promote some more!
Are you a venue who loves to host supperclubs? Please get in touch, we’d love to create a little database to link up awesome places with fab new ideas! Just email email@example.com.