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How To Start A Supper Club

If you’re a big lover of food and drink, chances are you may have visited a dinner club. Whether it was at an underground restaurant, or you went to a dining club, attended a secret supper or headed down to a pop up dining experience, there are loads of great ways to experience your passion. If you enjoy cooking and seeing others happy (as well as watching their smiles as they wolf down all the delicious food you’ve made), it’s time to get serious and turn your skills into bills. Learn how to theme an evening, write a fail-safe-but-fancy menu and bring lots of customers to your door…

I’ve heard of a supper club, but I don’t know what it is…
This is simple! A supper club is something you can do from the comfort of your own home, so it is very informal. Guests sit together (sometimes joined by the chef) and are served either a set menu or a tasting menu (where you are served lots of different courses). Alcohol can be consumed, but it’s best to ask guests to bring their own because of licensing.

Can anyone come?
In a word, yes! Word of mouth is usually the way your evening is heard about, but there are some websites where upcoming events are listed too:

Don’t be afraid of social media either. Set up a blog, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook account.

I’m a bit nervous; how do I know this is right for me?
If the type of food you cook is suited to a more relaxed setting and you don’t have a background in professional cooking, plus you’re more comfortable working from home, a supper club is perfect for you! As your confidence and experience grows, you could then look into running a pop-up restaurant.

Do I need to improve my culinary skills?
The people coming to your event share an interest with you – they like food! Whilst you may have a few good dishes up your sleeve, there is no harm in doing a bit of research to get people talking about what a great time they had and what fantastic food they ate. Do some online research to see what else is already available and get blogging! Foodies are big fans of the online world, so not only is this a great way to show off what you can do, it’s instant marketing for your club!

Should I buy certain ingredients?
It’s a no brainer that fresh food is best and will deliver a high standard of taste, texture, smell and appearance. That doesn’t mean to say you need to spend heaps of money on all your ingredients, just a few outstanding ones. Just like good news, good food travels fast, so if you get this right, you’ll be onto a winner!

When should I open my supper club?
Have a look in your area to see when other eateries open and when their busiest times are, and try to do the same. Do certain restaurants shut when people are away or it’s a bank holiday? Look for opportunities and take full advantage.

I don’t have enough pots and pans – help!
If you live in house of just two of you, chances are you won’t have enough furniture and catering equipment for a party of ten. Contact local stores to see if they will loan you any chairs, plates, pans etc in exchange for promoting them on your night.

Do I need anything else?
First impressions are everything, so make sure you have created a nice atmosphere. Light candles, switch on low lamps, or decorate the room with pictures. Also make sure the area is clean, tidy and respectable. You want people to come back and spread the word after all!

How many times should I practice my menu?
Lots! Practice makes perfect and you don’t want to leave your guests waiting – or smelling anything burning! That said, don’t put too much pressure on yourself so it becomes a chore rather than something you enjoy.

How much should I charge?
Work out how long you are hoping to open your supper club for – is it a one off, or a month? Work out all the costs for that timeframe:
–  Utilty bills
–  Temporaray Events Notice application
–  Insurance
–  Level 2 Food Safety & Hygiene course
–  Hire of kitchen equipment
–  Marketing costs
–  Printing materials
–  Restaurant dressings (candles, lamps, napkins etc)
–  Cleaning materials
–  Ingredients
The total of all of the above is what you need to break even for the running time you set up your supper club. Take this figure into account when pricing your menu, divided by the number of people you have coming.

For more information read: How To Run a Pop Up Restaurant or Supper Club: Turn your passion for food and drink into a profit (£9.99, Robinson) by Abigail & William Alldis