Pop-up restaurants, reality show coming to York City

Sean Philip Cotter

One little storefront on North Beaver Street in York City will play home to four different restaurants over the course of 16 months, and you'll be able to watch all the the trials and tribulations of the process play out in a locally produced reality TV show.

"I want everyone to think of 'American Idol' meets 'Restaurant Startup' meets 'Shark Tank,'" said Toni Calderone, a local restaurateur who is behind the project.

Calderone, who co-owns Tutoni's Restaurant, and Allison Given, who is that Italian restaurant's marketing and events coordinator, received a $20,000 grant earlier this month from the York County Community Foundation's YorIt intiative to start the project they're calling Taste Test, A Pop Up Restaurant Series.

The idea is to have four different restaurants operate up for four months each in the property Calderone owns at 33 N. Beaver St., she said, adding she hopes the first one will open up by the end of the summer. Right now, it looks like that will be a sushi place, Calderone said..

After four months, the space will cycle to another kind of restaurant. There are discussions of an Indian restaurant, a steakhouse and a vegan-focused place, among others — types of establishments that don't really exist downtown currently, she said.

Calderone said she hopes the concepts come from people in the community who might have creative ideas for restaurants but not the resources to make them happen.

"We'll partner with some people who have great concepts but might not have the restaurateur experience," she said.

And then at the end of the 16 months, there will be a crowdfunding campaign where people use their money to vote for their favorite restaurant. When that's all done, the winner will move into a larger space somewhere else around town and hopefully become a permanent fixture, Calderone said.

York College: Calderone and Given are partnering with students from the York College Department of Hospitality, who can get internship experience working on the project.

Toni Calderone and Allison Given receive a $20,000 from the York County Community Foundation grant for their project Taste Test, A Pop Up Restaurant Series.

"We’re trying to bridge the gap that exists between the college and downtown," she said.

That's been an area of focus for many York City institutions — trying to get college students to feel more of a connection with the city and spend more time downtown. Angela Lauer, a development officer at the community foundation, said it was one reason the foundation's YorIt fundraising initiative decided to award the grant to Taste Test.

"What excited the group was the partnership with York College," she said.

YorIt looks to raise money for "social venture projects to foster growth and progress in York County," according to a news release. Last year, a $10,000 grant went to the Pedi Cabs, a transportation service where cyclists taxi people around downtown.

Lauer said the foundation also liked the fact that Taste Test was a nonstandard approach to sparking something downtown.

"We also look for out-of-the-box creative ideas that maybe can't get traditional funding," she said.

Reality TV: And, of course, we'll get to see it happen on the small screen, Calderone said. She said Taste Test will partner with York City's White Rose Community Television to document the process with a reality TV show. She said it'll show the day-to-day process of creating a startup and how a restaurant works.

"And all the drama that goes with it," she said.

She said it'll show the good and the bad — they'll talk to people who eat there to see whether they liked the food "or whether they hated it."

The idea's to drum up interest and hopefully get some more foot traffic around downtown, she said.

"So people can learn about what the city's doing," she said.

— Reach Sean Cotter atscotter@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at@SPCotterYD.