Our co-founder Ifeyinwa reflects on the lessons learnt from our January pop-up and looks back on February's supperclub.
On 24th January the wait was finally over. Chuku’s was back. It was time to kick off the year with our first pop-up of 2016. 12:30 and our doors were open once again. I popped to the kitchen to give the thumbs up to the team - they were good to go! As I re-entered the seating area, the place was already filling up with the first guests. Time to get on my smile and get waitressing. By 13.00 we were full! And for the next 5 hours it stayed like this with queues outside the door. No time for a quick selfie then. I couldn’t quite believe it. How had this happened?
It was the first time we’d opened without guests having to book tickets in advance. Thus, unsure as to how many people would turn up, my initial concern had been not having enough guests, never not having enough space. How wrong I was! In the end we had to turn some guests away as unfortunately we just couldn’t accommodate them.
Lesson learnt: the word was spreading and growing numbers of people want to chop, chat, chill. Our next pop-up afternoon would need a bigger venue and team.
But before we went bigger, we scaled things down. So, in February we took a break from our regular daytime format and held our first supperclub. This marked the launch of our new Intimate Series - a programme of events we’re running to bring guests the same Chuku’s vibe in a smaller, cosier environment.
I couldn’t wait and in the run-up to the event I had the same childlike excitement I get for my birthday. The adrenalin was pumping. Not even the wintry cold on our trip to the market affected me. It was our first event since Emeka and I had started working on the business full time and I was enjoying being immersed in Chuku’s activity. Food all day and catching jokes with my brother, what was not to love?
The supperclub was our first event outside of East London, with public demand taking us South of the river. It was the second trial of our new menu and the verdict was positive. In between courses, soulstress Kemi Sulola performed for guests and she killed it. Composure was lost. There I was throwing my hands up and screaming every time she dropped another banger. I was just glad the speakers drowned out my “singing” at the back.
This month we have our first set of private catering events. From birthday celebrations to a business networking dinner, we’ll be popping up across the country with the Chuku’s experience. And as always, we’ll be working on bringing you our next pop-up afternoon.
Until next time!