WILL RIDLEY ROAD MARKET be changed by the influx of young entrepreneurs, as it has changed so much else in Hackney?
Action of some kind is certainly needed. Some traders have been unhappy for several years about their treatment by Hackney council and the latest changes — including cheery-looking, red brand-marketing signs throughout the street and pavement resurfacing in unusual materials — are not seen by all as the best way to fill vacant stall sites and to counter the influence of nearby supermarkets.
Matters were not helped when the council mishandled a BBC TV news report last September 2012 about its failure to clamp down on Ridley Road shops (not stalls) selling meat illegally imported from West Africa. Initially attacking the report, the council U-turned to praise it.
If the council is incapable of steering the market through the challenge of online shopping, progress may come from the street. An example is Ridley Road Market Bar, a licensed bar-cafe-music venue lurking in a shop building behind the fruit and vegetable stalls. In its less than two years of existence WU’s has become a hip hangout.
Now it is branching more overtly into the market proper. On Sunday 24 March 2013 from 3pm to 10.30pm it will be selling its handmade pizzas. The Slice Girls, a reference to a manufactured 1990s pop band, will dispense pizzas from a wood-fired stone oven. Paloma Heindorff, of WU’s, says: “As in the movie Spice World, we’ll have a traditional Routemaster bus parked up with the very best ’90s music playing.”
The pizzas will be free rather than the £5 they will cost in future weeks. “And,” Heindorff adds, “we’ll have a special drinks menu for the 24th.
“We’re asking everyone to bring the ’90s vibe to the party for our open deck called ‘That’s my jam’. Anyone who gets there early enough to sign up will have 20 minutes in which to play their ’90s-inspired playlist.”
Ridley Road Traders Association chairman Larry Julian tells Loving Dalston: “The market is changing and the Market Bar doing pizzas on a Sunday is a part of that change. But selling fruit and vegetables is this market’s bread-and-butter — the modern must take its place among the traditional.”
David Altheer 140313
* Ridley Road Market Bar (WU’s), 49 Ridley Road, Dalston E8 2NP
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