Food stall workers at night market Last Days of Shoreditch have described a decision to demolish the pop-up as a “big mistake” as they vacate the area to make way for a new Park Plaza hotel.
The portentously named night market has operated on the edge of Old Street under different guises for eight years, bringing street food, bars and live music in its prime east London location.
The venue marked its final run on Sunday ahead of plans to demolish the site.
Reda Cellam, who cooks pizza on the market’s Crust Bros’ stall, said he felt the decision to tear down the market was a “big mistake”, adding: “It’s been open for eight years, it’s something amazing. The owner just told me they [planned] to open just for six months and they did it for eight years.”
Joel Del Solar, who manages the Cheeky Burger stand, said: “It’s so sad, everybody here is so sad. It’s more than just working here, we ended up becoming a whole family.
“I’ve been working here for a few months, but you’ve got people who have been working here for eight years, three years and everybody’s just sad.”
It came as Hackney Council was warned it would not be able to attract innovative independent businesses if it brings new licensing regulations into force.
The new regulations include a “core hours policy” that sets out closing times of 11pm on weeknights and midnight at weekends, although the council has said the document should be seen as a “guide” rather than a “blanket policy”.
The authority of the London borough, famous for its diverse and thriving nightlife, also voted to double the size of a Cumulative Impact Zone in Shoreditch – with a presumption that licensing applications in this area will be refused.
Earlier this month Last Days of Shoreditch co-founder Rob Star told the Hackney Gazette he was concerned he would not be able to reopen the venue elsewhere in the borough believing he would struggle to keep his late licence.
Stall workers approached by The Caterer said they were looking to either pick up operations and move to other areas of London, or continue with previously established outlets elsewhere in the city.
The market’s plot will then see the construction of an 18-storey Art’otel. The new development will offer 350 rooms, along with a top floor restaurant and bar, and a publicly accessible spa. The art-focused Park Plaza brand currently operates in Amsterdam, Berlin’s Mitte region and Dresden, among other locations.
In a press release, Art’otel said the region’s creative pedigree had made the site an ideal location.
The company added: “As the brand’s entire concept focuses on original art displayed from one artist throughout the hotel’s guest rooms and public areas, Art’otel will fit perfectly against this fashionable backdrop.”
Along with the Last Days of Shoreditch night market, the neighbouring Red Gallery art exhibition space will also be demolished to make way for the development.
Meanwhile protests against the council’s new licensing policy look set to continue. Alan D Miller, the co-founder of east London’s Old Truman Brewery pop-up who managed Brick Lane’s Vibe bar for 20 years, said the fight to block the new rules was “not over yet”.
Speaking from a protest outside Hackney Town Hall on Friday, he told The Caterer: “Having a 10pm exclusion – after 10pm not being able to go outside and smoke – is a massive problem for everyone but particularly for street food operators, that’s a key concern.
“The council leaders have always got the right to make a decision on things, it just stifles new development, new creativity, particularly new young operators who want to try things out.”