I have been watching too many uninspiring 80s sci-fi remakes lately, or perhaps I have been drinking too much tea. Either way, it is time for a think about what we are actually trying to achieve in Leamington Spa, on the subject of street food. In the run up to Christmas we have had positively several opportunities to trade in the town centre, and the people of Leamington have had ample opportunity to try toasties. So far no one has tried to have us shut down for offending their senses with our awesome lights, so I will tentatively assume that we are doing ok.
The towns folk now have a few months to recover, while we concentrate on assaulting only the people who live in our road with the lights, and then we will be back out there slinging toasties and engaging in van-based banter.
As we have recently discovered there is very little demand for street food, even toasties, in the first few months of the year. People are busy with new years resolutions, it’s cold and the weather is going to be bad even though you hope it won’t be. This distinguishes it clearly from Winter: where you know it will be bad but make the best of it; and summer, where you really, really, really wish it would just stop bloody raining for half an hour.
Events close to home are even rarer, and festivals, which confidently happen right into November on the other side of Christmas, are simply unheard of. We are in a position where we need to make our own luck, and are plans are currently gathering around two main areas.
Option 1: The permanent pitch. I’ve talked about it before. Seen as the holy grail of the street food vendor it is like being signed to a record label. If the record label is the council. It’s a steady source of income all year round, but it ties you down. No flitting off to do music festivals every week. It’s something we always get asked about, especially by anyone wanting to feature us in media. What with street food being rather fashionable, media types do occasionally want to feature us, providing a nice big dollop of promotional goodness all for free. But their readers/listeners/viewers will want to taste your wares, and not being able to do so reliably is … inconvenient.
Options 2: The Street Food Collective. So what if we could assemble a crack commando unit of street food sellers who had been gathered together to survive as traders of fortune. If you had a venue, if you needed some help, maybe you could hire … The Food Team. Possibly going to need to get some other traders on board for that. Maybe a place to pitch and some promotion, probably a better name and a license to sell alcohol. Well, if it was easy everyone would be doing it.
So currently we are trying our luck at both. We’re approaching venues and other vendors, and still trying to find somewhere the council might let us pitch as well. It’s not burning the candle at both ends, it’s using extra candles or, for a more festive and relevant analogy, fairy lights.