Cambridge Foodie: The come-back of pop-up restaurants

This month, Gerla de Boer, discusses the return of pop up restaurants in Cambridge.

It’s all go at the moment. New restaurants are opening up all over the place in Cambridge and much to my surprise we have seen the return of the ‘Supper Club’, also known as a ‘pop up restaurant’.

In 2014 supper clubs were extremely popular in Cambridge. Self-confessed foodies were keen to share their culinary skills with others and opened their homes so they could show off their creations. Was this a shout out wanting more diversity in the local food scene? I have to admit there was certainly a lack of variety at the time, but things have changed! 

New places with a wider offering appeared on the scene and supper clubs started to wind down. Not just because of the increasing offering, but people realised it was hard work to run a supper club. Of course, running a supper club is challenging, but a restaurant is even harder work. Did you choose a good location, are you aiming at the right audience, can you get good staff and is your offering good? These are all the things you have to take into account when you open a restaurant.


So the supper club or pop up restaurants have returned. The big difference is that they are now run by professional chefs wanting to warm up the public for what is about to come. One of these chefs is Tristan Welch of Parkers Tavern based at the University Arms. By the time this article goes to print, the restaurant and hotel will have opened. Tristan has been sharing his culinary skills with Cambridge over the last year and Cambridge loved it! Did you see his Keith Floyd inspired cooking sessions? Check it out on YouTube; they are really funny.

University Arms Hotel

Another chef to watch is the ex-Michelin starred chef Mark Poynton, the previous proprietor of Alimentum Cambridge. He is set to open a restaurant in the city centre, most likely this year. His pop-ups are on a Wednesday night, called ‘Midweek Treats’ at the Ancient Shepherd in Fen Ditton. You can follow him on social media @MJP restaurants.

Another two chefs who you can see popping up around Cambridge are Chef Alex, the previous owner of the Hole in the Wall and Jo from Afternoon Tease. They work closely together with independent restaurants and businesses and will pop up in different locations. They haven’t revealed yet what their plans are, but one thing is for sure, there is something in the pipeline! So watch this space!

Sometimes it is the end of an era. With sadness we have seen that one of the Cambridge institutions, Charlie Chan, has closed. The owner is now going to focus on the diversity of the Chinese community Cambridge.

More openings to look forward to in Cambridge:

  • 5 Blends (coffee shop) on Mill Road
  • Ony’s on Mill Road
  • Noodle Republic on Regent Street
  • University Arms on Regent Street
  • Franco Manca on Market Hill


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