Interview with Eugene Ashton Gonzalez
Eat My Heart Out Storytelling Dinner Theatre
By Kathryn Gordon
Kathryn: Hi Eugene. Pop Up restaurants and bakeries are appearing everywhere as promotional tools to attract attention and investors and also to earn profit. I know you've been working on a pop up restaurant, and I know you’ve been involved with one before. Can you tell us about it?
Eugene: In October we will have a one-night dinner theater and storytelling performance. I am the writer/director in charge of the theatrical part, and I am working with the chef and crew that we worked with last year for a prior popup. Diners will enjoy dinner while watching a show.
Kathryn: How do you promote something that only lasts one night?
Eugene: We are raising funds via Kickstarter. We also have a website and a Facebook page. We still have a mailing list and followers from our last event. Last time, we sold out our available tickets in 72 hours because we attracted the attention of food bloggers.
Kathryn: With your ticket sales, is something like this pop up model economically viable?
Eugene: Honestly, we can’t really pay the servers. Mostly, they are volunteers (friends of friends). We have to have enough funds to rent the space and the equipment, pay for the food and pay some of the cooks who join the team for the night.
Kathryn: What’s the biggest challenge of arranging something like this?
Eugene: Risking exposure of the event to health officials! It’s not treated completely like a private party. It’s quasi open to the public and it’s not an invitation-only private event so it’s kind of in a grey area in terms of inspections. We try to keep the final location hush hush until the last possible minute so the health department won’t be there to shut us down when we need to serve dinner!
Kathryn: How did you find the space you will be using this year?
Eugene: The first event was in a friend’s loft. We served 80 covers and outgrew that space, so this time we are renting a larger space. We also rent the kitchen equipment, table ware, everything.
My partner, the culinary director, is in charge of renting the ranges, refrigeration and everything they need in the kitchen. He designs the menu. I am making the front of the house arrangements. My background is in food and theater and I write and produce the show with a troupe of actor/friends.
Kathryn: Eugene, what’s next in terms of projects for you?
Eugene: We are planning to open in California. There is a market everywhere now for storytelling and a huge fan base and we plan to feature the local food economy in California and independent food producers. For example, the chefs come out to describe the recipe development for each dish in between serving the courses to the audience.
Kathryn: Thank you Eugene!
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