The current pop-up movement — where entrepreneurs turn dining halls into discos or vacant buildings into short-term restaurants — has a new, local twist: the pop-up party.
From high school team-building events to a Friday night dinner-and-a-movie alternative, South Tampa’s Jen Loveridge is betting that “pop-up parties” are here to stay.
“It’s a huge fad right now in all the big cities,” said Loveridge, who hosts the parties that mix unusual venues and artistic expression at different restaurants in South Tampa and Carrollwood. “They have pop-up clubs, pop-up restaurants, pop-up everything.”
She said the concept is about having a social activity in different hot spots.
“This gives people an affordable, fun activity to share with friends, and they even have something to show for it at the end of it,” she said.
A former Armwood High School cheerleader from Seffner, Loveridge experienced her first pop-up event when visiting Chicago. And while she may have started the Tampa business earlier this summer, she’s enjoyed immediate success — a fair amount of August is already booked up.
Her inspiration for the entrepreneurial venture was her fiance, Nick Friedman, who grew College Hunks Hauling Junk from one truck into a nationwide franchise.
“I always saw how much fun Nick was having and how hard he worked as a business owner, and I thought to myself, I can do something on my own,” she said. “I no longer need to be in his entrepreneurial shadow. I can strike out and make my own path professionally.”
They met at Jackson’s Bistro at a mutual friend’s birthday party about four years ago.
“Jen has done this all on her own,” Friedman said. “I’m extremely proud of what she’s created and I could even envision her maybe franchising this concept one day.” Their wedding is planned for Oct. 12.
Loveridge said her pop-up events appeal to people in the 25 to 45 age category. Participants receive step-by-step art instruction from local artists. Guests pay $40 for the two-hour instruction as well as a take-home canvas, paint, supplies, and, where applicable, a complimentary glass of wine. Usually, the events run from 7 to 9 p.m.
“Wine brings out a different side in people,” she said. “It’s art therapy with the wine and about relaxing after work.”
Although she is always switching around venues, the current pop-ups are taking place Mondays at the Wine Exchange, Tuesdays at Carmel Café in South Tampa, Wednesdays at Ciccio’s California Cuisine restaurant in South Tampa, Thursdays at Flight Restaurant and Lounge in Carrollwood and Fridays at Flying Pan Crepe Restaurant in South Tampa.
“Restaurants are loving it because it’s bringing in more business, especially on their slow nights,” she said.
Mark Chiaramonte, a Carmel Café & Wine Bar operating partner, said he supports and encourages those who enjoy creating art.
“The South Tampa Carmel Café & Wine Bar has welcomed art enthusiasts who have enjoyed gathering in our lounge area, near the bar, to pursue their passion for creating art while interacting with our guests during the two Party Artsy events that have been held here,” Chiaramonte said.
Loveridge also runs corporate team-building events, fundraising and charity events as well as private parties with 10 or more people at any location.
“Private parties will be huge for us,” she said. “We will be super busy for the holidays.”
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