From Roald Dahl to Robert Louis Stevenson, these London-based literary dinners are growing fast.
The Literary Hour began three years ago in a North London living room when a group of housemates got together and decided to host literary themed supper clubs. The first theme was inspired by the wonderful world of Roald Dahl (think Snozz cumber sorbet and three course dinner chewing gum!) and since then we’ve run 10 different themes. Guest can expect a welcome cocktail plus five courses and other culinary surprises peppered throughout the night. There’s a short reading before each course to contextualise what is being served.
Who is the team behind it?
TLH was the brain child of Jude who has lived and breathed food from a young age (her mum caught her making spaghetti bolagnaise from scratch aged six). She lived with Simon and Helen and her passion was so contagious it took no persuading to get the rest of the team on board. Simon’s the set designer and builder as well as being great in the kitchen and Helen is responsible for marketing and ensuring all th guests are well fed and watered on the night making sure maximum fun is enjoyed by all.
What gap in the market did you spot?
We saw a gap for a very relaxed dining experience with delicious food and light immersion. We sit guests on long banqueting tables so they can not only chat to their friends but also hopefully make some new friends by chatting to everyone around them. We also make sure that the evening runs at a leisurely pace - we won’t be rushing you for the table back at the end of the evening!
What’s your success/progress so far?
We started from feeding 20 guests in our living room three years ago to now catering for 60 guests in other venues today. We’ve just finished our Treasure Island supper club and I think we all agree this was our best yet. The diners seemed to really enjoy themselves and we were especially proud of each course and how we’d dressed the venue. To date we’ve fed more than 4,000 people - I could never have imagined that if you’d told me that three years ago!
Fitting this in alongside the day job has been hard (Simon and I are now both freelance to make this easier).
And believing in ourselves! Especially the night before our first guests arrive. There’s always an anxious moment when we question all the work we’ve put in and decisions that we’ve made but fortunately these usually disappear once we’ve welcomed the first guests.
To run dining experiences full time.
One piece of advice you’d give to other bookish startups/entrepreneurs?
Just to be open minded and not afraid to give something a go - I never imagined I’d be doing this four years ago! Do as much as you can yourself - especially in the early days when income and profit is slim - but always be honest about your limitations and where you could benefit from help.