Urban sustainable food market concept Mercato Metropolitano will open its second London site in Mayfair this week with news of further expansion in the UK and overseas.
Mercato Mayfair, which will launch on Friday, will occupy a 16,000 sq ft space in the deconsecrated St Mark's Church, which has reopened to the public after decades of being in private use and having undergone a two-year £5m restoration.
A further two sites will launch by the end of the year, with a 17,500 sq ft Mercato Metropolitano Factory at Elephant Park in Elephant & Castle and the purpose built 31,000 sq ft Mercato Ilford in Essex set to open in October and December respectively.
International schemes are planned for the US, where Mercato Metropolitano founder Andrea Rasca said he would like to open next year, with more locations in Europe, Canada, Japan and the Middle East over the next five years.
Rasca, launched the first permanent Mercato Metropolitano in 2016 in a 45,000 sq ft site at Newington Causeway, also at Elephant & Castle, after the concept had been trialled at the World Expo in Milan in 2015.
Mercato Mayfair has a vaulted basement that will host educational programs, workshops, events and cookery classes, a rooftop terrace and outdoor bar.
The Mercato Metropolitano Factory at Elephant Park, the regeneration project being delivered by Lendlease and Southwark Council, is located in a purpose-built building that will include a mill making flour. Meanwhile, Ilford will feature 30 stalls selling global foods, a roof top hydroponic farm, German micro-craft brewery, and seating for 600.
Nationally, Rasca said he has had requests from local authorities, developers and landlords to open in Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol, Liverpool, and Southend.
All the concepts will be unique to each area. Rasca, who is the co-founder of Italian-American chain Eataly, said: "Not a single market will be the same as each other. They are going to change completely – even within the same city."
The schemes are being financed partly by the success of Mercato Metropolitano Newington Causeway, which this year is expected to have three and a half million visitors, and through funding and additional local authority financial support. The Ilford Mercato Metropolitano is being funded by a grant from the Greater London Authority and Redbridge Council.
Rasca said: "We are honestly, incredibly successful, which is why the GLA through the Good Growth Fund, and Redbridge are giving us £1.4m to open [the site] for them, because of our social impact on the schools, on the people, and for helping people who want to start their own businesses. We are creating entrepreneurs."
The Mercato Metropolitano philosophy is to create markets that are plastic-free with innovative food production methods, pioneering circular economy initiatives – from hydroponics, mushrooms grown from spent coffee ground, beer from London tap-water and gin distilled with waste heat.
All food vendors and artisans pay Mercato Metropolitano a percentage of their sales as rent rather than fixed amount.
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