Monograph: How to start a successful supper club

6 Mar 2015

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Supper Clubs have become a favourite fixture in London’s dining scene, every week diners can choose from a smorgasbord of culinary concepts hosted in pop-up venues across the city.

The benefits for both chefs and guests are numerous. A supper club is a great way for chefs to save money on restaurant costs, test their concept and make a name. The limited availability and often unusual location makes the dining experience that bit more special for attending guests.

For anyone feeling inspired to launch their own, we caught up with supper club pioneer Ugo Lo Presti of Monograph London get the insider info on how to ensure your supper club is a success. Named one of London's best pop-up restaurants, and recently having to upgrade to a bigger venue, Monograph is one of London’s most promising supper clubs around...

What’s your checklist for finding the right venue?

Start with a business plan: how many people do you want to cater for? How many tickets do you think you will sell? What are the costs of ingredients, staff, transportation? What’s your budget for the venue? Adjust until everything works together and determine ideal size and price of the venue.

Other important things to check are the hours you can use the space for, how many tables and chairs are there and what kitchen facilities the space has. Everything you need to hire in should be factored into your business plan.

Remember, if you rent the space only for the event you’ll need to deliver everything just before the event and take everything back afterwards. If you use a cab take into consideration there will be higher fares late at night.

When it comes to licences, if you want to do all your cooking at the veure you need to make sure the venue has an A3 licence. If it has an A1 licence you will need to cook somewhere else and reheat at the venue. If you wish to see alcohol the venue will need to have an alcohol license (you will need a personal license as well) or you can offer a BYOB policy (you may want to do it anyway).

Finally and perhaps most importantly, make sure you get along with the landlord :)

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What about the location, how did you chose yours?

First off you have to understand who is your ideal guest: where do they live and where they like to go out? The locations we’ve used so far are have just been in East London but that hasn’t stopped guests coming from all around London. If you make it work, people will travel to find you.

How flexible does your menu need to be?

The menu is the core of the supper club. Make sure you collect information about dietary requirements at the time of the booking. Catering for specific dietary requirements means more work but it is very rewarding, you can please more guests and make them feel special.

We also change the menu every 2 months, it’s a lot of work but a new menu means more returning guests and potential interest from the press!

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Any tips for promoting your supper club?

Find that thing that sets you apart from the crowd and make sure you communicate that clearly to the press. The press is your first customer, make sure you impress them as they will influence your guests. I’ve also found that twitter works quite well for outreach and spreading the word.

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Monograph serves pre-set Japanese menu every Friday in a new venue in Brick Lane. You can book a table here.

Find supper club spaces to rent in London

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