Posts tagged Street food
The rise of the food hall

"In recent years food halls and markets have given street food a new lease of life, transforming it into an entirely new dining experience."

Starting with humble roots, street food may once have been considered a far cry from a gourmet dining experience, at least in the UK. But gone are the days of boring burger vans.

In recent years food halls and markets have given street food a new lease of life, transforming it into an entirely new dining experience. Covered markets with trendy dining spaces are a welcome change, offering variety and a bustling atmosphere. Borough Market, Mercato Metropolitano (Elephant & Castle) and Pergola (Paddington) are just three of London’s many food halls offering unique dining experiences with fresh tastes from around the globe. Adding to this list will be the arrival of ‘Eataly’ in 2020colourfully described as a ‘foodie theme park’. 

The food halls and markets outside of the UK will also blow any foodie’s mind. A melting pot of colours, flavours and aromas inside markets such as Mercado San Miguel in Madrid, Mercato Centrale in Florence or Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.     

Digging deeper into this growing trend, here are three reasons why food halls are shaking up the street food scene and getting such a positive response.  


According to McCain’s 2018 Casual Dining Report, dining experience matters whatever the price. Consumers are more likely to spend when their food comes with an experience, so food halls and markets offering cosy dining spaces, culturally diverse cuisines, Instagrammable spreads and entertainment are transforming street food into an experience. 


Eating in large groups can be difficult if not everyone wants the same thing. Considering the rise of vegetarianism and veganism, amongst other dietary requirements such as allergies, food halls offer that all-important variety. From spicy foods to keto options or dairy substitutes, the chances are that larger groups can enjoy a sit-down meal together no matter what they buy. 


Bruschetta for lunch, Pho for dinner? Sure!  

The growing popularity of food halls is also down to the cultural variety on offer. Each visit is a new experience with global cuisine.  

Take London’s Borough Market. In the space of an afternoon, customers can become gastronomic globetrotters across France, Spain, Ethiopia, Japan and even the Caribbean island of Grenada.  

In the age of experiences, it’s no surprise that street food has become an opportunity to enjoy food with friends and discover new cultures. A far cry from that boring burger van.

Theatre, timing and health: get food-to-go right
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"Food is more of an experience than ever before, and food-to-go needs to embrace the experiential."

The Speciality & Fine Food Fair was full of great food and even finer insight. Panels made up of Adam Sopher (Joe & Seph’s Popcorn), Theo Lee-Houston (Kerb) and Katy Moses (KAM Media) debated the big topic of the show: the food-to-go market.

Food-to-go: adaptable theatre

The adaptable nature of street food was a stand-out topic. According to the panellists, food must deliver an emotional connection and give customers a sense of theatre. Consumers expect an experience as well as a premium product. Street food producers are achieving this by bringing noise, colour, interaction and excitement into production.

As a serious lover of all-things Teppanyaki, arguably the original ‘performance dining experience’, I completely understand the appeal. Food is more of an experience than ever before, and food-to-go needs to embrace the experiential.

Timing is key

According to Theo Lee-Houston, timing is key to a successful lunch time business. You have a two hour window to hit and should aim to make a portion every 20 seconds.

Trading on Mondays and Tuesdays have become redundant and therefore non-existent. Trading really starts on a Wednesday and continues getting busier throughout the week before reaching its peak by Sunday.

This makes sense. As part of human nature Monday brings the start of the week for most people. A fresh start, a chance to turn over a new leaf. People begin the new week how they would like to go on, eating healthy home cooked meals (perhaps leftover from the weekend’s dinners).

However by Wednesday this has gone out the window. As the saying goes, old habits die hard.

A nod to a healthy lifestyle

Food-to-go doesn’t need to be utterly healthy, but it needs to give a nod to a healthy lifestyle. According to Katy Moses, 16% of Generation Z are vegan, compared to 1% of the world’s population. 9% are actively cutting down sugar and 8% are with fat. This shows the direction our food is heading.

While street food doesn’t need to be ‘healthy’, it does need to nod to healthy trends. Vegan food isn’t guaranteed to be healthy, but it has the image of a healthy lifestyle (this is a major topic for another day). Stephanie Peritore (Mindful Bites) believes food-to-go shouldn’t just show off a monetary value, it should show off a health value as well. Eating junk food can be cheaper than making a well-balanced meal, but when you take into account the health implications of junk food, it costs considerably more.

Expect to see food-to-go getting even more flexi-friendly, and slightly healthier, in the near future.

In summary, in order to achieve a successful lunch time eatery you have to hit genuine customer needs. Offer a healthy(ish) option that brings a bit of theatre to lunch hours, especially for Wednesday and beyond.

Who knows, get it right and you might even convince people to come down on Mondays…