Even for established restaurateurs, opening a pop-up presents distinct challenges. When Epicurean Group’s August Cardona and Joe Campanale opened Alta Linea, their ode to outdoor Italian dining at Manhattan’s High Line Hotel, they quickly discovered they’d have to attract an audience and get the whole thing running smoothly with no practice period. Here, the duo shares the lessons they’ve learned from opening their first pop-up.
1. Search out a spot with potential. “Finding space in New York isn’t too difficult for a pop-up,” says Cardona. “There are plenty of landlords that ‘get it’ and see the value.” What’s tricky is finding a venue that attracts sufficient foot traffic and has the potential to transform into a special place. When Cardona and Campanale found the open courtyard that would become Alta Linea, they knew this was the right place to create a pop-up dedicated to alfresco dining.
2. Give it a compelling theme. “In Italy, people enjoy aperitivos at pedestrian-only piazzas,” says Campanale. “The courtyard at the High Line Hotel is the closest thing I’ve seen to that in New York. It’s set back from the street, so you’re separated from traffic, and the beautiful church seminary in the background really adds to that Italian feeling. This pop-up is really about creating a mood of carefree, outdoor drinking—as seen frequently in Italy.”