15 February, 2015

It's Restaurant Day 2015

A Piece Of Finland. Amsterdam, Netherlands. Restaurant Day, 17 August 2014. Image courtesy of restaurantday.org.

Restaurant Day is a worldwide food carnival when anyone can set up a restaurant, café or a bar for a day. It can happen anywhere: at your home, at the office, on a street corner, in your garden or inner courtyard, at a park, or on the beach – only your imagination is the limit.  

Punavuoren Teehuone ("Punavuoren Tea Room"). Helsinki, Finland. Restaurant Day, 4 February 2012.Image courtesy of restaurantday.org.

Bun Brothers & Friends. Helsinki, Finland.
Restaurant Day, 17 May 2014.

Image courtesy of restaurantday.org.
That's the official description on the group's website, and it's perfect! Restaurant Day is a one-day event started by Timo Santala in Helsinki, Finland in 2011 as a way to creatively push back against the bureaucratic regulations and prohibitions against self-made, public eating establishments in that country. Since then, it has become an international success and even sparked discussion in Finland regarding a need to reconsider the laws that were the catalyst for Restaurant Day in the first place. In the May, 2012 issue of Monocle magazine, Jussi Pajunen, Mayor of Helsinki, was quoted as saying: Restaurant Day is exactly the sort of project that will define our future. Restaurant Day has inspired the city’s population to question how things are run and to experiment and put forward new ideas of how daily life might be improved in the future. And check out Timo Santala's TEDxTurku talk below where he describes the wacky-wonderful experience that is Restaurant Day.

Tokyo Kitchen. Helsinki, Finland. Restaurant Day, 19 Nov 2011.Image courtesy of restaurantday.org.

Emilie’s Alley. Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Restaurant Day, 17 August 2014.

Image courtesy of restaurantday.org.
Blini-ikkuna ("Blini Window").
Helsinki, Finland.
Restaurant Day, 4 Feb 2012. 

Image courtesy of restaurantday.org.

The website offers suggestions for how to plan your pop-up restaurant: Coffee and cakes at the docks, treats from the trunk of a van, a six-course dinner in your living room – what does your own ideal restaurant look and taste like? The more fun the concept, the more happy customers it will attract. Quirkiness is not, however, the main aim – just try to think of a restaurant that you personally would love. Location is key. In the summertime, favorite spots have included parks, courtyards and street corners. In the winter, Restaurant Day lovers have gathered in homes, offices and other indoor spaces.

Ravintola Talvisota (Restaurant Winter").
Helsinki, Finland.
Restaurant Day, 16 Feb 2014.

Image courtesy of restaurantday.org.
The Hog & Apple. Helsinki, Finland.
Restaurant Day, 4 Feb 2012
. Image courtesy of restaurantday.org.

Ravintola Ötökkä ("Restaurant Bug") Helsinki, Finland. Restaurant Day, 19 May 2012. Image courtesy of restaurantday.org.

Image courtesy of bobaguys.tumblr.com.
A few years back I made a short documentary as part of my BA thesis in Interdisciplinary Studies about a pop-up restaurant in San Francisco called Boba Guys. I was working with outdated equipment so the tech quality isn't the best on the film, but you get the picture. Bin and Andrew loved boba tea (also called bubble tea or pearl tea) and had a passion for maintaining a connection to their Taiwanese ancestry through the drink that was invented there. So they opened a pop-up cafe that operated out of the front of a hip noodle house during the day, and closed shop in the evening when the rest of the restaurant opened for dinner service. 

Image courtesy of bobaguys.tumblr.com

Since then they have moved into not one, but two, brick-and-morter locations and have a third in the works (that's working as a pop-up for the moment), an expanded menu that includes snacks, and a line of groovy merchandise.Way to go Boba Guys!

Enjoy Restaurant Day in any way that you can today: make and sell your own food, visit a food truck, patronize a new restaurant, or grab a cupcake with a friend and eat it outside somewhere while enjoying the good company and surroundings. ¡Bon provecho!
The main concentration of Restaurant Day pop-ups today are in Europe, but their website has a location finder to see if there's one happening near you. In the USA, there are pop-ups in Santa Cruz, CA and Brooklyn, NY.

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