Monday 13 August 2012

How to Open a Streaterie

"At British Street Food, we have a dream. A dream that one day the men with their rusty metal handcarts – and ‘sausages’ from a can – are chased from our streets forever. Leaving their overfried onions trailing along behind them." 

Hear hear. Those evil men and their ghastly rusty handcarts. No logo, no twitter account, no blue stripy apron, no mates who've jacked in their job in the City to help, blatantly peddling their nasty 'sausages' and (look away now) OVERFRIED ONIONS (God help us) to our people! It is a crime I tell you! A crime to good taste. A crime against all that is good, all that is nice. How can a person, 10 pints in, on a promise, between the pub and the nightclub, even THINK of eating such muck, when they could just as easily tell their new friend the evening's over, go home to bed, get up early, travel to a car park in South London, queue up for half an hour, get out a tenner and eat hand-reared, organic, sustainable, locally sourced KIMCHI instead?

Exactly. And I know what you're thinking, you could do this yourself! You've always wanted to have your own restaurant, but that's far too scary. And 99% of restaurants fail and close in the first week anyway right? You'd be MAD to even bother. Yeah, you're a foodie! That's all the qualification you need! You can make a version of that Mexican taco  you loved when you were on your travelling gap year! You remember, when you broke up from Jeremy when his father wouldn't wire him some more cash? Yeah, and you know how people are always saying your dinner parties are so delicious, and how every time you go to restaurants you complain that you're just paying extra for the table, the tablecloth, the service and all that? Yeah? So rise up. RISE UP I tell you, and get streating. It's fun, it's easy! You can be the latest thing, You just need to follow my guide to opening your own Streaterie. Or streateaterie. 

1. CONCEPT. Well, you don't really need a concept. All you need is to sell food on the street (it's that easy?! Apparently so). But bonus points for being ironic, retro, nostalgic. You'll need a brand. It's got to be shoving a fist up to the horrid corporate food industry, and all those stuffy 'restaurants' etc. So the rough 'done in 5 mins' look. Try to include the word 'urban' or 'street' if you can. Then strip back to the roots. You're just a kitchen, right? That's it! 'Kitchen'. 'Urban Street Kitchen' or something. Cool. First bit done. Kick back and treat yourself to a craft beer and some hand toasted Andalucian almonds.

2. THE TRUCK. Find a disused van, shipping container, bus, tank etc. If it's not nailed down, you can call dibs on it, right? If you have a van, be sure to call it a 'truck' or a 'wagon'. never a van. We're trying to get away from the horrible late-night burger van idea, yeah?. This is a sure-fire way to fool your customers into thinking that they are in America, where it's really cool. This will be the premises of your streaterie.

3. LOCATION. Take a functioning street market that's been boringly selling fruit and veg or something for years and get a stall there. The riff raff locals won't come to you anyway because you'll be way too expensive and weird for them so after a while you and your gang will take over anyway. And don't worry about existing nearby restaurants and cafes that pay stuff like business rates and rent etc, they'll thank you for bringing a cool hip vibe to the area. Failing that, close your eyes and stick a pin in the A to Z. That will be your location today. Repeat every day, to keep it fresh (and so that girl on her lunchbreak who stumbled upon you yesterday can NEVER find you again. She wanted your number). It's also important to keep your fans on their toes. Also they could be literally chasing you around, which makes it really easy for newspaper subs when it comes to writing headlines about you. 

4. PACKAGING. Find various forms of disposable packaging. Brown paper (tided up with string, of course), McDonalds Happy Meal packaging from 1979 (stick it to the corporate machine, man!), Silk Cut packets. This will be what your customers will eat their food from.

5. SEATING. You don't need to provide your customers with a place to sit so don't worry about that too much (convenient, eh?). If you do, find the most uncomfortable seats possible. Around a grotty, nay distressed, picnic table.

6. CUTLERY. For cutlery, a quirky take on the chip fork: Just use twigs. For napkins, freshly foraged sycamore leaves. Or sanitary towels (they've even got their own handy packaging in a variety of pastel colours).

7. MARKETING. Be mysterious. You've already thought of a clever, pithy name. Be secretive. If you have a website it must be strictly single page, with stains, burnt edges, distressed looking background. Lettering should be suitably raw, stamped, scribbly writing or typewriter font. Hand out cryptic flyers outside hipster-frequented speakeasies. They love that shit. Oh, and get on the 'Streaters' radar as soon as possible. For the first week, just tweet STREET FOOD at all of the influential food bloggers and they'll get the message.

8. FOOD. This is the easy bit. Just look at your favourite food blogs to see what the 'next big thing' is. That is what you will sell in your streaterie. Something fast food and tasty like hot dogs. Mmmmm. You LOVE hot dogs! But these will be GOURMET ones. With fried onions! And fluorescent mustard, for a 'retro ironic' feel. No-one's done gourmet hot dogs yet. Have they? 

9. FINALLY. Remember you're a streaterie. You're cool. People will forgive you for anything. Soggy plates, greasy brown paper bags, no-where to sit, crap cutlery, long queues, shit locations, high prices, food falling apart, warm beer. 

When do we start?

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