By Lauren Davis
Newly-rebranded SoLa hosted a pop up recently to bring the community together for a night “Under the Influence.” Local barbecuers from Smoke Shop Barbeque served up different meats, vegetables, and noodles with an Asian twist for customers. Because the night was such a success, head chef Erika Lipe said they will be “popping up” more often this spring.
Formerly known on the Square as the Wine Bar, SoLa is a “twisted cuisine”restaurant that serves dishes like salads and burgers and some dishes with an Asian twist. Lipe is collaborating with different restaurants in the area to host several pop-up events at her restaurant. She says she wanted to team up with other restaurants to show the community that there is no competition among the restaurants here in Oxford.
“I wanted to create a union here and to show people that it’s not restaurant against restaurant because we all have our own cuisine and artistry,” she said.
Smoke Shop Barbecue Chef Brad Hayden gave Lipe the idea when she saw a pop-up he did at Marjie’s Grill in New Orleans. She saw how successful the event was and reached out to him to collaborate.
On the night, the menu and staff were coordinated by Smoke Shop Barbeque, and SoLa provided the venue and bar. The line outside the restaurant stretched down the block, and people still kept coming once the event had started. Lipe said she was very excited at the turnout for this first event.
“The turnout was phenomenal for this being one of the first that we’ll do,” she said.
She said there will be more pop-ups that SoLa plans on hosting within the next few months. She has four more in the works with other restaurants in the Oxford and Memphis area, including on Feb. 24 SoLa will pair with Spencer Copelan and his team from Wok’n in Memphis to give customers a Chinese and southern fusion. Wok’n in Memphis serves its customers Asian-inspired dishes such as wonton soup, kung pao cauliflower and fried rice along with several others. They will be taking reservations this time around.
There is another pop up planned for March 30. SoLa will be teaming up with Chef Eric Tait from McEwen’s in Oxford, and it will feature four different Buffalo Trace bourbons. After that, they are planning to collaborate with St. Leo Lounge to host two different pop-ups. The dates have not been set yet, but Lipe is planning for them to be after the Ole Miss commencement ceremonies. SoLa and St. Leo will each host one of the events.