The English Market in Cork has come up with a novel way of supporting new food businesses by offering them short term use of a designated stall within Ireland’s oldest and best known food market.
The Start-Up Stall, which was redesigned and fitted out for this purpose, is available to new traders for four- or six-week residencies at a cost of between €150 and €200 per week. It is located at Unit 3 in the Grand Parade Market building.
“We were trying to find something a bit different for a vacant unit,” said Alison O’Rourke, administrative officer at Cork City Council’s property department, which oversees management of the market.
“We’ve had a lot of interest and a good number of applications. We will have bookings right up to Christmas and we are looking for something really special for Christmas,” O’Rourke said.
The space is currently occupied by the makers of Smokehouse Sauce, a multi-purpose condiment created by Conrad Howard, owner of four restaurants in Cork city. They launched their residency with a 24days24ways initiative, which will see them offering a different dish for sale every day, all of them made only with ingredients sourced within the market, in addition to Smokehouse Sauce.
They are currently on day 14 of the project, and today’s dish is fish cakes, parsley and gherkin potato salad with balsamic and Smokehouse Sauce dressing, made using produce from Ballycotton Seafood, Superfruit, Mr Bells and The Olive Stall. Tomorrow’s offering, tripe and drisheen, reflects the market’s heritage and will be made with meat from O’Reillys.
On Friday, the market is open late for Culture Night and the Start-Up Stall will be selling brisket rolls (meat from Tom Durcan), smoked chicken thighs (Moynihans) and homemade nachos with cheese (On The Pigs Back) and guacamole (Superfruit).
The first guest trader at the stall, which opened for business last month, was Oh! Naturelle, a Cork-based company which makes dairy-free, low-fat, naturally sweetened sorbets and ice-creams.
Louise Ryan, who runs the company along with Aisling Murphy, said: "The Start-Up Stall at the English Market was invaluable for Oh! Naturelle for two main reasons. It allowed us test new products and get feedback from customers. It also gave us a temporary shop window, allowing us test the appetite for an Oh! Naturelle frozen dessert parlour. Without this, we would have needed to put a significant investment into a pop-up or test store, which had prohibited us from exploring this sales channel."
The next traders to occupy the Start-Up Stall will be Naturally Nourished, owned by Yvonne Whitley and Kevin Madden, who will be selling protein balls, flapjacks, dairy-free mousse and other products geared to the healthy eating market.
Prospective Start-Up Stall traders must apply in writing (online application forms here ), and may be invited to interview, after which a review panel decides who gets to trade from the pitch. Preference is shown to vendors who can show a commitment to sustainable food practices. For more information, see englishmarket.ie.