The restaurateurs behind two of east London’s hippest restaurants — Bistrotheque and Hoi Polloi, in Hackney and Shoreditch, respectively — are taking over the site of Chicken Town at the Old Fire Station in Tottenham: a move from operators with a proven track record that offers further proof that the north east London neighbourhood is one to watch.
Pablo Flack, one half of the Bistrotheque duo who are widely credited with opening the original hip Hackney restaurant on Vyner Street in 2004 — years before other, more mainstream operators had the confidence to open in the neighbourhood. Indeed, Bistrotheque is minutes away from two of the most hotly anticipated and hip new openings so far this year — Mare Street Market, by Gizzi Erskine; and Bright — the follow-up restaurant from the team behind P Franco.
In the autumn of 2013, Flack and his business partner David Waddington opened Hoi Polloi in the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch; in the intervening years they had become synonymous with pop-up restaurants, both short- and long-term, with a project on the roof of the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford (when it was a building site) in the summer of 2010, and Shrimpy’s in a former petrol station north of King’s Cross in 2012.
Eater understands that the as-yet-unnamed restaurant in Tottenham, which is due to open later this year, will have a Mexican and South American leaning and will be “accessibly priced.”
Chicken Town — a not-for-profit, social-enterprise restaurant — was set up “to offer a healthy fast-food alternative in the Tottenham area, serving high quality food that is particularly affordable for young people.” It also sought to provide work and training opportunities for the local community. It announced its closure in December last year having traded since October 2015.
On announcing its closure, Chicken Town said it served over 30,000 customers, adding that thousands of local young people had benefitted from subsidised and free food. It worked with 1,300 young people through a youth programme and trained and employed over 30 members of staff. The operators confirmed there would be no job losses.
The goal, the announcement added, had always been to “become financially independent, while serving delicious and healthy food to young people.” But, it said, “due to economic pressures — many of which are shared by other social enterprises and small businesses – this has not been possible.
“As you may know, we have been working to achieve a smooth transition to a new restaurant partner over the past six months...subject to final lease negotiations, we are excited to announce that the restaurant at the Old Fire Station will become home to a new business operated restaurateurs behind Bethnal Green’s Bistrotheque and led by Pablo Flack who lives locally in Tottenham,” Chicken Town said.
Flack and his team have taken over the lease on the site and “will take on the responsibility for repaying the existing loan of £210,000 provided to Chicken Town from the Opportunity Investment Fund” (a £3.65 million programme jointly provided by the Greater London Authority and Haringey Council to enable investment in workspace and employment projects in Tottenham.)
Bistrotheque’s owners will convert the ground floor site at the Old Fire Station into a restaurant space. Chicken Town confirmed that under the terms of the loan agreement, the new operators “will continue to deliver new jobs and training to local residents,” as well as offering ongoing employment and training opportunities to Chicken Town employees.
The new restaurant will also continue to support the programme of healthy eating and growing projects, cookery classes and a range of creative and educational activity established by Chicken Town.
More soon on the timeline for opening.