Why the Secret Supper Scene Is Taking off in Barcelona

A Lets Drunch event
A Let's Drunch event | © Let's Drunch
Tara Jessop

Call them pop-ups, secret suppers or ephemeral dining experiences: there’s a growing trend for alternative food experiences all across the world. Not surprising perhaps given its reputation as one of Europe’s most foodie-friendly cities, Barcelona has been seriously bitten by the secret supper bug. We caught up with Rodolfo of Let’s Drunch! and Ella from Bear on Bike to find out why the secret supper is proving such a success in the Catalan capital.

How did the idea come to you to set up a secret supper event in Barcelona?

Rodolfo: “When I moved to Barcelona I looked for a similar event, but I couldn’t find one: a place with good music, good food, in a beautiful venue and a place to connect locals and travellers. As an architect, interior designer and event producer, I’m always looking for beautiful venues and trying to create the perfect atmosphere. At that time, almost five years ago, I was working as a set designer for a company that manages locations for filming, so I knew a lot of unique locations in Barcelona.”

Ella: “We were first encouraged to set up a pop-up event by EatWith when they were in their beginning stages in Barcelona. At that time the offer was very casual, and the experience was very similar to having a bunch of friends around for dinner. At first it seemed more like a fun, social experiment than a business venture.”

Host Rodolfo Madera and guests

Who comes to your events typically? Has your clientele changed at all over time?

Rodolfo: “At the beginning it was primarily the local scene, now I’m getting a lot of interest from the expat community and travellers who are looking for a boutique culinary experience in Barcelona. This has turned the event into more of a social dining experience than a dinner in a unusual place.”

Ella: “The mix hasn’t really changed as our offer has evolved, and we still get a good balance of visitors and locals. Our favourite events are the celebration dinners we run for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. At the pop-ups there’s always a great mix of inquisitive Catalans and tourists, and a lot of our own friends and people coming back for the second or third time.”

Hosts Ella and Alberto at one of their secret suppers

What has people’s response been generally?

Ella: “They love it! We put a lot of ourselves into the experience, and I think people really appreciate the personal touch. There are hundreds of places you can go for a great meal in the city, but to have all that and also get to meet the chefs, see their project and hear about their philosophy and enjoy an intimate evening with lovely people and conversation is something unique.”

Rodolfo: “Since the beginning the response has been awesome. People talk about us with their friends and relatives. I can see that because of the amount of word-of-mouth clients that we get. We also get a lot of interest through social media, people who loved the way we have an eye for detail and how we express it through our pictures and videos.”

Guests at a Let’s Drunch! event

Ultimately, what are people looking for when they come to this kind of event?

Ella: “More and more it seems like people are starting to place more value on experiences, and less on things. If it used to be about going to the fanciest restaurant, the current trend is to collect unusual and special experiences. We certainly think of ourselves as following this trend, but there is something very attractive about an authentic social experience. The people who come, love and expect great food, but I think the pull is actually a social one. We want to make new and meaningful connections, and I think that is the greater pull.”

Rodolfo: “People now are looking for a place to socialise and have a great dinner in a safe and curated ambience. In our secret suppers, you can expect to find people from 10 different countries at a table of 30 guests. There’s a great variety of profiles and ages, and this mix of cultures and backgrounds is what people love the most. I think they also like there being a host present, someone who takes care of everything and makes the event more personal. This is one of the most important aspects of this kind of event.”

A mix of locals and travellers at a Bear on Bike event in Espai Egg

Why do you think these kinds of events work well in Barcelona?

Rodolfo: “Barcelona is very cosmopolitan. You can find people from every corner of the globe living or travelling here. This mix is great to connect and create experiences where people meet, share, laugh, eat, dance and go back to the basic roots of our human behaviour. Barcelona is also known around the world as a city that creates trends. Which is why if your project succeeds here, you have the ‘Barcelona’ brand behind you, and that’s great!”

Ella: “There are 101 reasons why Barcelona is a very special and wonderful city to live in, and people who grow up here, move here or come to visit are on the look out for something special. The lifestyle is a big part of its draw, and people here are willing to try things that add to that experience. To be honest, we’ve started focusing on creating really special experiences and leaning away from competing in the trend-following. Tourism is a huge but extremely competitive market here, and there are over 7,400 bars and restaurants vying for the attention of visitors and locals alike. As I mentioned, our most popular events are our Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s pop ups. On these occasions, if you’re travelling or far from home, it’s so great to be able to have a family-style dinner with great food and ambience, whether you’re a family, couple, group of friends, or alone.”

Guests are gathered on a rooftop for a secret supper

Check out the next available dates for your secret supper on the Let’s Drunch website, or check out Bear on Bike and the programming at Espai EGG, their gastronomic space and café.

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