Cafe Society

Dinner Lab, a pop-up restaurant concept, expands to Denver

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Started two years ago by CEO Brian Bordainick, the company offers an annual membership that gives members access to regularly scheduled dinner events, sometimes as many as three a week, depending on the market. And the company is now selling memberships in Denver, with its kick-off dinner event scheduled for September 26. For an annual membership fee of $125, members get access to regularly scheduled dinners for $65 per person per event. Members can purchase two tickets for an event and the cost includes tax and tip, so no additional money is exchanged at the dinners.

While the initial membership fee seems a little steep, Ken Macias, a manager of new market development for Dinner Lab, explains that the cost is essentially defrayed over the number of events a member attends in a year. Dinners include a half-hour cocktail reception with unlimited cocktails, beers or glasses of wine followed by a multi-course dinner paired with two to three additional drinks.

Here's how Macias outlines the four main elements of each dinner: the creative energy provided by an undiscovered chef; the ability for members to provide immediate feedback for each course and the overall experience; the unique locations and entertainment provided for events; and the social aspect that gives guests a chance to make new connections.

Dinner Lab gets its talent pool from each of its markets; about 50 percent of the chefs participating are local sous chefs and line cooks from area restaurants who are given the chance to create their own menus and tell their own stories through food. The other 50 percent are touring chefs who have received high scores from club members and who want to take their menus to new locations, as well as full-time chefs that Dinner Lab has hired based on their performance at previous dinners. Macias points out that while the meals don't feature celebrity chefs, many do come from well-known restaurants, including New York City's 11 Madison Park.

Keep reading more about pop-up restaurants from Dinner Lab...

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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation