Pop-up restaurants are everywhere in this city, but rarely do they come with an ulterior motive like Design Taco (37 East 1st Street), happening this week on the Lower East Side: Drop by this makeshift taqueria before Friday, and you’ll feast on Mexican food while you’re schooled in various aspects of launching a business.
The concept comes from the guys at The Design Gym, a two-year-old company that focuses on, per co-founder Andy Hagerman, the “intersection of design strategy and entrepreneurship.” And beyond consulting work, he says, “We give workshops and help people rethink their businesses, particularly those looking for something more creative.”
The company spends a lot of time working in the food space, given the sheer volume of restaurants and products launched in New York City, so its founders decided to put together a one week pop-up taco shop that will also serve as an incubator, with a variety of presentations from successful New York business-owners.
Why a taco shop? “The natural environment of the taco shop is similar to environment in our workshops,” says Hagerman. “Tacos represent atmosphere we want. They’re flexible. There’s not a right or wrong way to do a taco, like there’s not a bad idea in brainstorming. They’re cheap; we keep our prices low and our public classes are very affordable.”
A number of entrepreneurs will speak throughout the week, and one session focuses specifically on the food start-up, with representatives from Los Perros Locos, Hella Bitters, and Food+Tech Connect, which creates tech tools for the food business. And many panels feature speakers from the restaurant industry — including from Betony, Chipotle, and Brooklyn Brewery — speaking on topics like collaboration, innovation, and the customer experience.
“We wanted to bring together companies and speakers across industries and roles and focuses,” says Hagerman. “We wanted to put that on stage in a way you wouldn’t always find people on stage.”
Tickets to each talk are sold separately, and they come with a couple of tacos from Los Perros Locos plus a beer from Brooklyn Brewery. Check out Design Taco’s website for more information and to reserve your spot. You can also stop in between presentations for tacos, drinks, and to talk shop with the event’s organizers. The pop-up operates from now through Friday.