The UK restaurant market has seen some major changes in the last decade, but there are few areas currently making as much of an impression as street food.
Some of the more popular and ambitious concepts have even excelled to the extent that they have spawned pop-up restaurants or permanent retail operations.
The street food community took an ever greater step to prominence just recently when a host of top executives from the British foodservice scene announced they were joining forces to take over disused spaces in London and turn them into pop-restaurants.
Founded by Leon’s Henry Dimbleby and Street Feast’s Jonathan Downey, the venture — branded ‘London Union’ — will attempt to create the world’s greatest food market in the heart of London. The group will also act as a new parent company to Street Feast, which has proved to be a highly successful concept that it will seek to follow.
London Union is backed by some of the biggest names in British food including Jamie Oliver, Wahaca founder Thomasina Miers, Polpo founder Russell Norman, Soho House’s Nick Jones and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi. London Union has already opened three local markets this year: Model Market in Lewisham, Dalston Yard in East London, and Dinerama in Shoreditch.
These markets are expected to welcome 750,000 visitors in the next 12 months, create more than 400 jobs and support over 60 small businesses. Over the next five years, London Union plans to open 15 more local, day and night markets, as well as one flagship market in a permanent location in Central London.
These numbers are not insignificant. And while the street food movement has traditionally not been a large capital investor in catering equipment, there is no doubt that as it builds momentum in London and beyond, it will be a space worth watching for a number of suppliers.