Page 27 - MarketTimesApril2020
P. 27

FEATURE • MERCATO METROPOLITANO
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   Massimo Franchi whose family run a gelato shop in Florence which was founded in 1932 now runs a gelato business called Badiani in the Elephant and Castle MM
But Andrea is not averse to a risk when he is in control of a project. He brought over Italian construction workers who used sustainable materials and the market was open within three months.
“Italian workers are the hardest workers in the world, and I made sure they had a top quality three course meal cooked by a great chef every day, so there were no complaints,” Andrea said.
The market was an instant hit and is now home to about 38 vendors which increases to 46 in the warmer months when the under cover, outdoor areas are packed.
The market comprises a food and produce hall including a French patisserie where shoppers can see the pastry chef at work, and a deli that has widened its range from mainly Italian fine food to artisan food produce sourced from London and the surrounding area.
The hot food halls are a higgledy- piggledy maze, with food businesses from every corner of the globe on the periphery and tables in the middle.
In one corner is a micro brewery started by three 20-something friends who wanted to brew the authentic beer they knew from Bavaria where two of them lived.
Andrea explained that they approached him with the idea but little capital. He thought it was brilliant so he agreed to take a percentage of takings which grew to more than £1 million last year.
Anton Borkmann, one of the founding friends of German Kraft, said: “We met when we were at school together and we had this idea to start a micro brewery on the model from a small town in Franconia
near Bavaria where the beer is all drunk in the town and doesn’t travel.
“That way the beer is fresh and the carbon footprint is very small.”
Other vendors include an Uzbeki refugee selling dumplings who has benefited from one of MM’s incubator projects which helps new businesses get started. Called Founders without Borders, it gives a free start-up opportunity to help refugees start food businesses.
Another trader, Nancy Nosel, won the Female Food Founders competition for her Ze Spätzle Club for her traditional south west German dishes. Again it involved financial support and mentoring.
Other vendors are long-established family businesses such as Massimo Franchi’s Badiani, a gelato stall selling the gelato his family has been making and selling in their shop in Florence since 1932.
“I came to London for a trip and found this market which is the perfect place to start up a gelato business,” Massimo said. He now has two gelato shops in Fulham Road and Notting Hill and the UK business is growing nicely.
Vicki Exall, MM’s head of community partnerships, design and managing strategic partnerships, has been friends with Andrea since their student days in Japan and organises much of the operation, in particular the community initiatives.
“On the food side, it is all about artisan food of the finest quality,” she said. “But we are also trying to make a positive difference in the local communities where we operate.”
That can mean anything from providing
nutritional two course lunches for local older people to providing activities and a healthy lunch for local children who may struggle to get a hot, healthy meal in the school holidays.
“The building was in a very bad state when we first saw it, but now it is a warm and friendly hub where people come together.”
It is open for breakfast through to late evening seven days a week, and there are often queues of people waiting to get in on weekends.
Mercato Metropolitano has come a long way since Andrea first set foot inside the dirty, dilapidated old paper mill, and all the signs are that it will continue to expand rapidly, spreading its message about the vital importance of healthy, authentic artisan food and community spirit.
 FACTS & FIGURES
l Market Day: seven days a week l Market Rent: traders pay an
agreed percentage of takings
l Elephant and Castle’s claim to fame: Named after a local coaching inn, Elephant and Castle in the London Borough of Southwark is home to the Strata tower which is nicknamed the Razor, the Imperial War Museum and a number of trendy night spots and eateries.
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