Image by Paul Arps on flickr

Gill Higgins, Origin Green Ambassador – London

Market Halls is a group of community-focused restauranteurs and property investors based in the UK, with the goal of reinvigorating unloved public spaces of architectural interest. In the spring the first of three new food halls will open in the 1880 Edwardian Underground station of Fulham Broadway. The second will open in the summer at the baroque Edwardian Victoria’s Terminus Place, featuring 14 kitchens, three bars and seating for 300, spread over three-storeys. The flagship third venue, Market Hall West End, will open in the autumn beside Oxford Street, and will be the largest food hall in the UK with 25 restaurants, ten stalls, four bars, an event space and a demo kitchen. With sustainable living a key trend, each of the food halls will be environmentally focused, with reusable cutlery, bowls, plates and glasses replacing the disposable crockery which has become a street food norm. The Market Halls group is comprised of the operator of the Lisbon based Time Out Market, which is Portugal’s largest tourist attraction, the street food operators Eataly and London Union and restauranteur Simon Anderson.

London is not alone in the food hall revival. In Manchester, Mackie Mayor serves Italian stone-baked pizzas, beef short-rib on toast and salted caramel chocolate brownies, to highlight but a few delights. The building boasts vaulted glass ceilings and ornate pillars, and was once Europe’s largest fresh produce market, having lain derelict for decades. Mackie Mayor was inspired by the success of the Altrincham Market House in Cheshire, which grossed over GBP5 million in revenue in 2017.

According to a report by Cushman and Wakefield, there are at least 16 new food halls in the planning pipeline for London, a strong indicator of the growing number of commercial landlords seeking ideas to rejuvenate town centres. It’s a new area of growth for casual diners who have grown bored traditional dining chains.

It would appear that the UK is embracing the success of European food halls such as Barcelona’s Boqueria or Madrid’s Mercado de San Miguel, which sell premium food in historic markets, and which have become tourist attractions in their own right.

So join the revolution, get out of the kitchen and into the new generation of food halls which combine locally sourced food with the finesse of leading chefs.