Here's a twist on the pop-up concept: hold a dinner in a random home while the owner is away. That's the idea behind PlaceInvaders, a popular concept that launched in New York in May 2014, later expanded to Los Angeles, and is now heading to Seattle. The first local dinners will be held September 15 through 17, and then again every few months as the program expands to other cities.
To nab an invite, diners sign up on the PlaceInvaders website. The dinners are arranged at homes while the owners are away, but they're not your average dwelling. "We choose homes that have some unique element, whether it's a fascinating history or back story, cool architecture, a gorgeous view, or some unexpected feature. It's not always about super-luxury spots, that's too easy," says co-founder Katie Smith-Adair. "Past invasions have popped up in an abandoned 1950s-era New York penthouse, a 275 sq. ft. graffiti-covered studio, and a Shanghai opium den-themed condo that once hosted a Notorious B.I.G video shoot."
Diners receive the address the day before the dinner, which involves several courses cooked by co-founder Hagan Blount. "He does a fantastic job with our menus, with no classical training," Smith-Adair says. "Hagan learned from his mom Patty, an excellent home cook, and adventures in food travel, he's always tinkering with a recipe, very committed to bringing out the best from ingredients. We get inspiration from the cities we travel to, visiting local markets, farms, and wineries, following the local food Insgrammers, even. We do everything ourselves in the residential kitchens of our spaces, which can often present interesting challenges, but it's all part of the fun."
The price range of the dinners varies depending on the city, the venue, and the number of guests. In Seattle, expect to pay $75 per person, which includes five courses and unlimited cocktails and wine. The first dinner is at a secret location in Pioneer Square on September 15, 16, and 17, at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.
So why expand to Seattle? "We love Seattle," says Smith-Adair, who was born here. "There's a ton of interest in food here, great neighborhoods with different vibes, and it's enough of a big city that people are adventurous and up for interesting and unique dining experiences. Plus the food and wine is awesome. We're the ultimate food tourists, and Seattle has so much to explore."