2015 is seeing more and more ‘street food’ restaurants on the High Street — but all too often they will have been dreamt up by marketing departments and equity financiers in a darkened meeting room. And have nothing to do with the street at all. Take hot dogs. Over the years we’ve written a lot about the doggers that have excited us but – as yet – there’s no high street branded hot dog restaurant in the UK. Not one. That’s going to change this year but – sadly – it won’t be a business that started on the streets. Tim and Julie Mills are looking to launch Hungerdog later in the summer, with plans to grow to between ten and 15 sites over the next five years. After Hungerdog comes Top Dog. We met the man behind it — leisure entrepreneur Matt Hermer – last year. Lovely bloke, who had a proper understanding of food. And people. Now he’s recruited Fortnum and Mason boss Ewan Venters to help realise his high-end, organic hotdog concept. Like the Hungerdog team, they have got the experience. And the money. But the rehabilitiation of hot dogs – and burgers, ribs, bao, pizza etc etc – began on the streets. So it’s galling to think that, as the High Street gets excited by the idea of street food, more traders aren’t getting actively involved in bringing their vision to a wider market. Which is where British Street Food come in.
Some street food brands have already moved into bricks and mortar — Bao, MEATliquor, Pizza Pilgrims, Yum Bun, Homeslice, Patty & Bun, Pitt Cue and Hot Box all began on the streets. But there needs to be more. This weekend we’ve got the Wales and the West heat of the British Street Food Awards, but we’re discovering new traders all the time. And by working with SSP, we can now help traders become ‘brands’ (f that’s what the traders want) in railway stations and airports — Euston Station will open with three of our recommended traders this month. Big Apple Hot Dogs, The Rib Man and Beany Green will all be amazing food retail concepts. We’re also working with Land Securities and British Land, who want to take the most exciting, innovative traders and give them their own premises. We did it with Rola Wala, and after the success of the British Land roadshow, we’re in the process of doing it with others. Traders need to stake a claim on what they’ve helped to create. It’s only fair.