Restaurant Lab Startup Launches in Pittsburgh

Pittsburghers now can attend pop-up Dinner Lab events, where feedback is highly encouraged.


For any chef who's dreamt of running his or her place, Dinner Lab wants to make that possible. For a night.

The startup, which launched today in Pittsburgh, offers a membership-based program in 27 U.S. cities. The gist: Locals pay $125 annually to gain access to the dinner series. It will cost an additional $50-$65 or so to attend an event, depending on the number of courses and what drinks are served; the fee covers food, gratuity and alcohol. Dinner Lab primarily works with (local) line cooks, sous chefs and chefs de cuisine, says Zach Kupperman, co-founder and chief business officer. He clarifies, though, that executive chefs do work with Dinner Lab — generally to preview a restaurant concept they're debuting.

Dinner Lab acts like a pop-up series, setting up at a different venue each time, and strives to collect diners' opinions. Verbal exchanges may occur between the culinary staff and the crowd, but all guests receive a comment card post-meal to formally convey what they liked or didn't. The head chef from that evening gets the feedback to learn what he or she could improve for the future.

It'll be about eight weeks before the first regional event, where Dinner Lab Culinary Director Mario Rodriguez will be in charge. Kupperman says that once the startup is fully up and running, it'll tap the local talent for its dinners, normally held a few times per month. Chefs can apply online.


Categories: PGHeats