Jonathan Key, director of drinks and bar at Bentonville’s restaurant The Preacher’s Son and Undercroft – the intimate bar and lounge in the restaurant’s basement – said the owners had recently transformed the cocktail bar into The Oasis at Undercroft on the tropical theme. The temporary (pop-up) event started on March 19 and will run until April 30.
Undercroft’s first pop-up was in 2019 with Christmas-themed Miracle on 2nd Street. Key said New York-based Miracle chose Undercroft to host the pop-up, which returned to the bar this past holiday season. Miracle launched the pop-up concept in 2014 and expanded to four locations in 2015 and internationally in 2016.
According to the National Restaurant Association, in 2019, temporary pop-up restaurants were the second trend in restaurant concepts, behind chef-led fast-casual concepts. In northwest Arkansas, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the timing of pop-ups and provided the opportunity to host them. And they succeeded.
The success of the Miracle at Undercroft pop-up led staff to consider other pop-ups and develop The Oasis at Undercroft.
“We focused on this island-style tropical theme and paid homage to the original Tiki movement in the 40s and 50s,” Key said. “The plan before was that we were hoping to do this in 2020, but we all know what happened then. Unfortunately, we had to push it back for a year and we’re very happy to be able to bring it to you.
Key wasn’t sure what to expect when hosting Miracle this past holiday season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but reservations were high.
“We are following suit at Oasis,” Key said. “The plan is to have a good time and bring that getaway, especially after the year we’ve all had, and make it feel like you’re going to another world or another part of the world without leaving Bentonville. “
Key and other Undercroft bartenders created the cocktail menu and pop-up program. Roxy Erickson, curator of Miracle pop-ups, has completed the decor and design work.
“We’re taking Undercroft to the bare bones and completely transforming the entire bar,” Key said. “Normally, the Undercroft is seen as a dark, underground living room vibe. The good thing is that you can easily transform the whole space by changing all the decor and changing the layout. There is thatch everywhere you feel like in a hut – lots of different fishing nets, buoys and fish. He transposes the whole space to give the impression of being in a different area.
Key strongly recommended making reservations to attend the pop-up.
“We’ve learned from our previous pop-ups that reservations are a great way to ensure that every guest who comes here has the full experience, and that they have a set table and time for that table,” said Key. “That way they can take up all the space and be guaranteed a spot.”
The bar will offer the new cocktail menu as well as its beer and wine list. Classic cocktails from the bar will also be available.
The next pop-up is in the works and staff have come up with several ideas, Key said. Customers can expect another pop-up within six months of this one.
Undercroft has eight bartenders, and including the staff at The Preacher’s Son, there are 30 to 40 employees. Undercroft’s redesigned layout has a capacity of approximately 55 to 60 clients. COVID precautions include checkerboard seating and table spacing, Key said. In addition, masks are mandatory and hand sanitizer is available. Key noted reservations help with the rotation of customers in and out and that tables are cleaned between each reservation.
ROOST TO SET
Recently, 28 Springs in downtown Siloam Springs launched the Roost pop-up restaurant.
Deputy manager Chris Strobl said that amid the pandemic, 28 Springs’ business had declined, and even before it was down. He said the restaurant wanted to reach a wider audience than in the past and had struggled to reach the blue-collar crowd.
Strobl said COVID has sped up the pop-up’s launch schedule and provided an opportunity to try it out. With Roost, it’s more accessible, with nothing fancy on the menu, like aioli or other dishes you might see in a fine-dining restaurant, he noted.
And the pop-up was a success. The number of weekday customers more than doubled to over 80 people. The restaurant served about that amount on weekends. It rose to 160-200 people on Fridays and Saturdays, he said.
Managing Director Brandon Bralley said the restaurant spent a few months working on its first pop-up before launching the concept in mid-February. It changed some of the settings, the waiters’ uniforms and the menu, Strobl said.
“This pop-up will continue to last throughout our open time,” said Bralley. “We’ll end up calling ourselves Roost at 28 Springs once we decide to roll out this 28 Springs menu, which will be completely different from what it was before. It will be a more refined, upscale cuisine.
It is expected to include steak, seafood and poultry options and will be developed for customers who come for special occasions, Bralley said. The restaurant doesn’t plan to host another pop-up anytime soon, but he noted that it might consider adding seasonal menus.
“This should generate as much business as we aimed at,” said Bralley, adding that sales had almost doubled. “We are focusing on what best reaches the community and the surrounding areas at the moment. We understand this as much as everyone else.
In mid-February, the restaurant stopped serving the 28 Springs menu and customers ordered exclusively from the Roost menu. A 28 Springs menu is expected to return, but a timeline has yet to be determined.
Chef Kurt Plankenhorn said the restaurant would need time to develop the new menu and get approval before 28 Springs returns. In this case, the Roost and 28 Springs menus will be offered. Customers of both will be served in a single kitchen, said Bralley.
The restaurant has around 25 employees and a capacity of 140 customers. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.
Last fall, Experience Fayetteville began hosting pop-up lounges exclusively in the town of Fayetteville’s outdoor refreshment area as an extension of bars and dining rooms and restaurant patios with limited capacity. due to the pandemic. The city’s open-air refreshment area, created in July and recently expanded
until April 2024, allows people to buy and drink alcoholic beverage outside the restaurant. The pop-up lounges offer restaurant customers an outdoor space to consume their take-out and take-out drinks. Additionally, people can enjoy live music and fresh air while practicing social distancing and safety protocols, said Hazel Hernandez, vice president of marketing and communications for Experience Fayetteville.
“Pop-up lounges were meant to help bars and restaurants as well as local musicians,” Hernandez said. “At the start of the pandemic, restaurants were at limited capacity and not everyone had enough seating on the terrace. It was a way for us to increase the capacity of a restaurant so that the community could support our local bars and restaurants and experience downtown Fayetteville in a safe and outdoor environment.
Experience Fayetteville hosted three pop-ups, and they had a good turnout, Hernandez said.
“Most importantly, all of them have helped support the businesses in Fayetteville, which is what makes them successful for us,” she added. “There’s always a learning curve when trying something new, and it’s important to keep trying new things and learning from successes. “
The next pop-up show is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on April 2 and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on April 3 on Dickson Street and West Avenue.
“We will have live music on both days, and the sun should be shining for a memorable spring event in Fayetteville,” she said.