* Update spring 2018: Lucky Chip in Ridley Road quietly ceased trading
THE OPENING of a sleek and stylish restaurant, above, in the heart of Dalston is welcome to all but the hardened opponents of what some people term “gentrification”.
When it is in Ridley Road, however, that the eaterie pops up, alarms may sound about Hackney council’s real wishes for the old-style, “Wotcher, cock” market that operates in the street six days a week.
For more than a century the chance – or need – to amble, push and shove through the street theatre that erupts when hard-working Londoners set up stalls to offer fruit and vegetables at low prices has traditionally been a necessity for poor locals and a joy for everyone who comes across it.
A Kurdish man arranging his colourful fruit into something so beautiful it could be an artwork, the large woman trying to haggle in Jamaican with a Cockney-talking Ghanaian stall-holder, a zoot-suited Nigerian seeking a repair for his “Cartier” watch… these are just some of the everyday vignettes.
As for the new resto, a lively assemblage of customers and waiters is already on show, its picture windows subtly evoking Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks.
Yet the arrival of Burgers And Wine raises doubts about the council’s strategy for the borough’s longer-established markets, which some stall-holders worry is that if a market does not have the hipster feel of a Broadway Market it should have no place in Hackney.
One working-class market, the Kingsland Waste, has already been pushed to extinction.
“However, we are currently charging some of the markets far less in fees and charges than the cost of maintaining, managing and cleaning them.
“It is important for our markets to be self-funding.
“The council has already managed around £100 million [or £130 million, according to Hackney Today… take your pick] in funding cuts from government and is now facing a further £60 million in cuts, and we cannot afford to continue subsidising our markets / street traders, including shopfront trading.”
Depending which cuts figure Hackney is flourishing, the total could come to £190 million, which is curiously close to the amount the council says in Hackney Today it spends annually on supporting markets.
As well as a rent rise Demirci wants to see “new administration and [pitch] application” charges. But only two markets are mentioned for the rent-and-bureaucracy price hike. You guessed: Hoxton and, yes, Ridley Road.
David Altheer 240116
* Lucky Chip Burgers & Wine 23 Ridley Road, Hackney E8 2NP. Wheelchair access
* All pictures on this page © DavidAltheer[at]gmail.com. All for sale for reproduction. Most pix can be enlarged by pressing on them.
* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.