Page 31 - MarketTimesDecember2019
P. 31

  Hot food stalls have been the driver behind the recent dramatic increase in occupancy and footfall at Chester
  Lisa and Dale Lord
US-style meat dishes, wraps and halloumi fries.”
Although he didn’t have much capital behind him, Stuart was soon up and running and a new clientele was attracted into the market.
That paved the way for a great Thai street food business, then a renowned London Italian chef was knocking on the door after falling in love with Chester and deciding to up sticks from the capital and start making and selling mouthwatering pizzas from his native Naples.
Karen then made the decision to remove rows of stalls from the centre of the market to create a seating area.
The move didn’t go down well with the traditional traders, who said she was ripping the heart out of the market, but she argued that the heart wasn’t beating so drastic action was needed.
As the hot food and drink scene took off, enquiries began to arrive from people wanting to set up stall in the market.
Several were street food and drink businesses, but there was also quite a mix including craft type businesses and artists who felt the market vibe was right for them.
A new hip barber now trades alongside the market’s traditional barber and there is a graphic designer, a games and comics business and a bit of just about everything.
The market has embraced green initiatives including a commitment for food traders to shun palm oil and to aim to become plastic-free. And in October 2018 the market Foodie Fridays was launched, with the market opening until 8 pm.
Karen said: “We didn’t know whether or not it would take off and the first Friday afternoon was a bit nerve-wracking.”
But people flocked to the market to eat, drink, chat and soak up the good vibes. Soon the problem was not whether or not people would turn up but how the market could cope with the crowds.
Some non-food stalls stayed open for the evening but most shut up shop.
This November the market trialled Saturday late openings until 10.30 pm.
The market is now fully occupied and footfall has increased dramatically to up to 28,000 a week on one busy market day last year.
New food and drink
Ayub Mohammed
businesses are relishing the market scene. Lisa Lord, who runs That Beer Place with her husband Dale, said they were doing really well in the market a year after setting up stall selling craft beer to take away and beer and other drinks for people to enjoy in the market.
“We still run a marketing business but craft beer is our passion and when we took a look inside the market and saw some of the great food and drink businesses here we thought it was worth a go,” she said.
“It has gone really well for us and we will definitely want to move into the new market when it is built,” she added.
But not every trader is feeling the benefit. Ayub Mohammed, who sells ladies fashion on the market, said that traditional traders selling non-food lines had had little benefit from the increased footfall.
“There could be 200 people sitting near by stall on a Saturday lunchtime but I may not make a sale until early afternoon,” he said.
Ayub, who is the NMTF liaison officer on the market, said the full market and increased footfall was a good
thing, but he questioned whether the aim was to make the new market a food hall rather than a proper market.
And he pointed out that traditional traders like him suffered a big drop in takings after the bus station was moved from behind the market to the other end of town to make way for the Northgate development.
Karen will be offering long-established traders compensation if they choose not to make the move to the new market, but she is keen to take the successful model across to the new market, so the emphasis will be on food and drink.
Detailed plans for the new market are still being finalised. It will be built on the site of the former bus station and will face on to a new Market Square. Work will start in January and the new market is likely to open towards the end of 2021.
Karen said the aim was to make the move as seamless as possible. Work on the new development will not affect the current market. After the move the existing market and the shopping centre will be demolished to make way for the second phase of the development.

   29   30   31   32   33