Welcome back. Nearly. Sort of. As lockdown starts to ease across Europe, we’re being actively encouraged to get out and enjoy what’s left of the summer, and start to eat and drink al fresco again — facemasks permitting. Life has changed. So, therefore, have the European Street Food Awards, the British Street Food Awards supported by Hellmanns and the USA Street Food Awards. This is going to be one heck of a summer.
Iceland are kicking off proceedings this weekend. A cool event – on the harbour in Reykjavik – capped at 500 people. Britain will be announcing dates next week, with a Drive-In heat included for the first time. Finland will be hosting at the beginning of August, with Germany at the end of August and Slovakia at the end of September, but we’re waiting for the other European governments to decide on their reinfection rates before we can confirm everything. And the USA Street Food Awards? Due to launch with Food Fleet at the end of the year? Only Donald knows.
The line-up of finalists will also be radically different from four months ago. Industry organisations such as Hospitality Union in Britain are continuing to fight for an extended rent-free period, and a subsequent move to turnover-based rent, but a large sector of European hospitality has fallen between the cracks. And while some street food businesses have been able to pivot, and develop the takeaway side of their business, others have had to close — NCASS in the UK has predicted it could be more than 50% in our sector.
However, there are positives. If you look hard enough. The relationship between street food and the delivery apps is finally starting to work. Which helps traders to balance the books. We’ve seen some exciting new talent (restaurateurs for instance) looking at the street food model as a more immediate, engaging way of reaching their audience. And forward-thinking landlords now have a lot of empty space to fill with something that feels different enough to attract people back to the shops. Street food feels more timely – and stands to do very well.
Everyone is learning. We wrote about the process here. At Food Mutiny (the company behind the Awards in Britain, Europe and the USA) we are launching Rebel Streat – our new food hall concept. After COVID, we think people will want new casual, freewheeling dining opportunities in places that are less confined than a restaurant. And they will want to continue supporting the local food businesses that local ingredients. Street food traders do that instinctively. We can only do our best…