July 8, 2015
By day, a sunny breakfast and lunch cafe, by night, a pop-up take over hot spot. The midtown cafe sits unassumingly at 1121 Soquel Avenue, but walk through those doors and you will be hooked. The layout is simple yet cozy. The staff, super friendly and inviting. The Friday evening fare, typical of a Pop Up, varied but always delicious.
The Pop Up movement that seems to be popping up all over Santa Cruz, allows for an eclectic mix of local food, beer, and wine to get exposure in a number of different locations. Mortal Dumpling for example, the Santa Cruz business serving up amazing handmade dumplings and bao, can be regularly found at PopUP on Pacific Ave, Food Lounge Downtown, and the Midtown Cafe.
Arguably the Pop Up movement is just another amazing iteration of globalization, where we see barriers being removed and access exploding. Pop Up purveyors are breaking all the old rules and expectations for how people get fed outside their homes. Rather than waiting for the eaters to come to them, they are going to the eaters. And the eaters love it!
"Pop ups are a form of business that’s possible with no or very little investment. It allows for a lot of visibility right away because you get to cross promote with other cool places. Another benefit to PopUps, is that you can change yourself any time- we could do a different menu at each event" — Noah Kopito, Mortal Dumpling
Pop Ups allow for both eaters and food purveyors alike to try something new, which creates a sense of participating in something special. Pop Ups have an air of surprise and elusiveness to them--not knowing where your favorite food will show up next, or who will be coming to your local Pop Up location. Its exciting stuff! You may see on Facebook that there is Pho at the Midtown Cafe, and you immediately start making plans to swing by on your way home from work.
Midtown Cafe came on the Pop Up Scene shortly after opening their doors in January of 2014. It had always been a dream of owner Zac Creager to open a coffee shop, so when the opportunity came up to purchase what is now Midtown Cafe, he went for it. In the beginning, Zac and his team were focused solely on breakfast and lunch service, which alone can be overwhelming--especially for a new cafe owner. Starting to host evening Pop Ups; however, became a way to utilize their beer and wine licenses, and provide a space for local purveyors to showcase their food.
For Zac, joining the Pop Up movement happened really organically. With his relationships with the local farmers markets and with many friends already involved in the local Pop Up scene, it was very easy to find opportunities to collaborate and create this Pop Up space. Midtown Cafe hosted its first Pop Up staring H & H Fresh Fish, a local business specializing in local and sustainable seafood. That night the place was packed, the evening was a huge success, and things just snowballed from there.
Hosting the PopUps has been a beautiful way to bring other networks of people into the cafe, and it gives people who haven't had the opportunity to have their own brick and mortar businesses a chance to have a restaurant for a night. — Zac Creager
Since H & H Fresh Fish, there has been a lot of interest from local businesses and amateur food purveyors in participating in a Pop Up, and Midtown Cafe has hosted local businesses like Kickin Chicken, Kitchen Witch, El Salchichero, and The Truck Stop, among others. With all of this interest, Zac really sees Pop Ups becoming an emerging industry. “It is very cool to have so many people that want to cook for their community, and this industry will continue to grow as people see the potential for themselves”. The overhead of having your own brick and mortar space can be expensive, so shared kitchen spaces provide access to chef entrepreneurs and gives them the opportunity to share and grow their businesses and their passion.