Wahaca’s Thomasina Miers and Polpo Group’s Russell Norman are among those to have invested almost £1m in the startup.
“This is like Avengers Assemble,” claimed co-founder Jonathan Downey, who set up Street Feast in Shoreditch and cocktail bar Milk & Honey. Alongside Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon, Downey raised £1m from 21 founder investors and 33 street food vendors.
London Union aims to open 16 food markets across London over the next five years. The idea, Downey said, was to expand the street food trend into more boroughs.
“It’s been brilliant fun, dynamic and creative running temporary markets and we now want to put them on a firmer footing to change London food forever,” he said. “We are creating an environment and business which establishes a sustainable model for some exciting street food traders.”
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Dimbleby added that London is in danger of being hollowed out given that it is full of empty spaces that have been bought by investors awaiting planning to build flats. The two founders want to take such spaces and create an area that would be profitable and positive for Londoners.
The founders also hope to export the concept to Los Angeles and Miami, before looking to grow regionally.
The startup will replicate Street Feast’s business model, whereby traders pay a nominal fee for a pitch and London Union runs bars in the market to generate revenue.
He claimed that 60 traders are currently involved in the project, but he expects this figure to change to 150 in two years’ time.
“It’s a hard life being in the street food business at the beginning,” Downey said. “No one’s heard of you. Your gazebo blows away. It’s cold and windy and you’re sometimes left with lots of uneaten food. We’re the light at the end of the tunnel for these people.”
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