Happy Christmas to all the eaters and dreamers!
Before you lose yourself in platefuls of turkey, cranberry-dunked roast potatoes and brandy-spiked pud, here’s a look back at what’s been keeping us busy in 2021…
Well, here we are. Another Christmas in uncertain times. With the uncertainty of the future comes a much bigger and necessary need to focus on the present.
But amongst all of this chaos, it’s been an exciting, energised year for food businesses. Lucky’s Hot Chicken bring Nashville hot chicken to the streets and beyond, Calamari Canteen brought you Bait through Seven Dials with their beautifully refined offer, and Bong Bong’s badass pata pancake plate to name a few. We’ve seen an impressive wallop of agility, with the rise of meal kits, virtual experiences and innovation beyond what anyone could have thought possible.
We’ve found ourselves gawping in awe at what some of our KERBanists, and beyond, have done to not only survive but thrive against tremendous odds.
Regardless of what this pandemic threw at us, there was no way it could stop the resilience of KERB’s members and the businesses we work with.
We’ve done all we can to continue to support our members, the industry and lead the city back to normality in the best way we know-how. By spreading joy through good food from the kerb up and beyond.
In a year that forced us into being reactive amongst ever-changing restrictions, there have been some amazing moments where KERB and our traders have helped breathe life back into the city.
We relaunched West India Quay and Gherkin markets to bring great food back to the streets and draw people back to normality. They were growers but over the 4 months of Gherkin and 3 months of West India Quay, our traders smashed out 17,500 amazing meals and helped make the city feel like home again.
Sadly without the ability to interact in person, the lifeblood of KERB – our inKERBator – was unable to take place in its classic form. But through great innovation, Petra developed KERB classroom. A way for fledgling businesses to gain insight and knowledge on how to launch their own food business all through home learning.
This is an in-depth 8-week course with expert insight, practical lessons and hosted masterclasses built to teach, ignite and inspire amazing food entrepreneurs into taking the next steps with the necessary knowledge they need to get their idea off the ground.
And even in the chaos, there has still been some tasty normality to our ecosystem with 20 new traders joining the KERB ranks in the second half of this year. Bringing with them the best of lockdown deliciousness in the forms of Mexican Seoul (Korean inspired fried chicken and tacos), Oishi Don (the Donburi dons) through to Lil Watan (bringing high quality Lebanese) to name a few.
KERB aims to bring back the inKERBator with a bang in the new year and will once again be on the hunt for the next best thing in food.
At Seven Dials Market, we’ve gone through numerous optimistic opens, challenging closes, false starts and bright new dawns, and are now, finally, at year close, we’re incredibly happy with how the place has developed over the mad long year of 2021. We’re fully let, with the brilliant From The Ashes, Chai Guys, Longboys and Curry On Naanstop all recent additions to the roster, and have, until the last ten days of uncertainty, seen customer numbers increase beyond pre-pandemic levels
There have been lots of inspiring things happening inside KERB – this year we also launched our curation of the food offering at the National Theatre, Excel Centre, football stadia, and have come back to Kew Gardens better and more brilliant than ever.
There has also been some great openings and offers to come from some of London street food alumni and beyond…
David Carter from Smokestak alongside Chris Leach opened their fixed site of Manteca after a successful residency at 10 Heddon St, Tim Lang (a very experienced GM from within the industry) opened FIEND Portobello – a kitchen led by Chris Denney with Beth Brickenden leading the wine pairings (On the back of her incredibly successful Drag and Wine nights at Golden Gai Soho), Pergola on the Roof taking over the former Street Feast site at Crossrail Place and breathing fresh life into the site, as well as many more.
Looking at the wider food industry, the pandemic has proven a good opportunity for chefs to go it alone – much like the conditions post-financial crash that developed KERB and many of the traders we represent, the shaking up of the order of conventional restaurants has created a lot of fresh ideas that put the city’s food landscape in great stead for 2022. Don’t forget to continue to support these guys whatever happens over the next few months, it’s what makes London such a fascinating and delicious place to live in.
There have been some saddening and difficult times for hospitality but with change comes new life and new possibilities.
We’ve (sadly) seen some small businesses fall prey to the pandemic as well as some of the big dogs and we tip our cap to what they have given the industry but the show must go on.
Wishing you all a fantastic Christmas, eat and drink to your heart’s content and soak up all the good vibes you can to recharge your batteries for what’s to come.
Here’s to it!