From Pop-Up To Set-Up

Hannah Blacklock sees a ‘travelling’ café turn into an East London fixture.

Starting in 2012 as a partnership between Jackson Boxer, Missy Flynn, Gabriel Pryce and Real Gold, Rita’s Café was originally marketed as a ‘travelling food and drink collaboration’.

The first pit-stop for this pop-up was located above a music venue on Stoke Newington Road – a refreshing alternative to the existing line of kebab shops. From the off, Rita’s attracted a young, cool demographic. With its modern take on American classics, in a friendly, relaxed and subtly classy cafeteria, Rita’s successfully appealed to the mood of the moment – offering ‘junk’-style comfort food in a suitably stylish fashion.

As its reputation grew, so did its clientele. Soon enough Rita’s Café was pulling in a big crowd everyday, from all walks of life. Word was getting out about the skillfully made margaritas and Southern fried buttermilk chicken, and people were willing to wait in line to sample the menu.

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In 2013, Rita’s moved from Dalston to its new home in Hackney. No longer a ‘test the water’ pop-up, Rita’s is now a firmly fixed addition to Mare Street.

Stretched over two floors and sandwiched between a fried chicken shop and a launderette, the vibe of Rita’s remains unchanged from its humble beginnings. Co-owner Missy Flynn said, ‘Rita’s is about looking after people….a place where we’d want to hang out with our friends.’

Having a collaboration of four individuals to support and inspire each other, was key to the creation and development of Rita’s.

Rita’s demonstrates perfectly how the pop-up format allows a potential business to get a taste of the industry and see how lucrative or successful the idea could be. London is the perfect place for an initially small-time, temporary business to get set in bricks and mortar and develop into something much more concrete.