A host of top executives from the British foodservice scene are joining forces with an ambitious plan 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 transform the capital’s food landscape by creating the world’s greatest food market in central 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.
The pioneering Street Feast model takes under-used and neglected spaces in London and turns them into vibrant street food markets, bringing communities together, creating employment, and providing opportunities for new food traders to establish themselves without requiring large amounts of capital.
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 over 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.
Downey said: “London is the greatest city in the world, but it doesn’t yet have the world’s greatest food markets. With London Union we are going to change that. The past 18 months have been phenomenal for Street Feast. We’ve turned underused and derelict parts of London into lively food markets that have brought people together, created countless jobs and helped individuals get their new business ideas off the ground. We’re making a real difference to local communities and London Union will help us take this model to a whole new level.”
Dimbleby added that London was in danger of being hollowed out and it wants to take empty spaces that have been bought by investors awaiting planning to build flats and use them to create something profitable and positive for Londoners. “In particular we want our flagship market to become one of the great global food destinations and to cement London’s place as the street food capital of the world,” he said.
Potential locations currently being considered include a huge floating market on the south bank of the Thames and Smithfield’s Fish Market, restored after 30 years of closure. Over half of Street Feast’s 60-plus strong network of traders have also chosen to invest in the business.