Redbridge Council Redbridge Council

Redbridge Council to support Mercato Metropolitano new market opening in Ilford, helping spark regeneration for the area

  • Located in the heart of the Cultural Quarter, the area has been transformed into a sustainable community food market creating 100 new jobs in the community
  • First-time traders including DreaMM graduate Afuego will be part of the new market and provide a vibrant space for locals to enjoy an array of global cuisines

Mercato Metropolitano, the first sustainable community food market in London, has opened a new market in Ilford, set to help regenerate the local area and the economy, in what is the first of its kind for the local community.

Mercato Ilford will generate 100 new jobs for the community, as well as contribute significantly to the local economy in Ilford. It is located in the heart of the Cultural Quarter, next to the Art gallery SPACE, Kenneth More Theatre and Redbridge Central Library and Museum, giving residents and visitors a newly regenerated destination for culture and food.

Mercato Ilford has been an important part of the ‘Spark Ilford’ regeneration project, helping drive new interest and visitors to the area for arts, entertainment, events, and food, while working with the community to achieve this.

The project is the latest step in the Redbridge Council’s “Ilford for All” Manifesto, to create a better vision for the future. In 2018, the council was the catalyst in securing a grant from the London Economic Action Partnership and Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund, a £70 million public fund dedicated to urban regeneration projects.

As part of Mercato Metropolitano’s broader mission; Movimento Metropolitano, the opening of the Ilford market demonstrates its commitment to creating a positive impact for the local community, offering a space for cultures to converge, while promoting local food entrepreneurialism and improving access to healthy food, sourced locally, and farmed sustainably.

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The diverse trading partners at Mercato Ilford will offer a wide range of delicious cuisines such as Ethiopian, Indian, Turkish, and Jamaican from a range of new traders, some of whom are opening a permanent trader business for the first time. This includes Afuego by Yassir Chair; a graduate of the Mercato DreaMM campaign, which helps incubate and support young businesses, transforming them into budding entrepreneurs.

Andrea Rasca, the Founder and CEO of Mercato Metropolitano, said: “We are excited to be opening up a new market in Ilford, making this our fifth location in London. Hospitality can act as a force for good – and through Movimento Metropolitano, our mission is to build more inclusive communities and sustainable local food systems. It will serve as a catalyst for diverse cultures and passionate people to come together to enjoy good food from all over the world without cultural or societal barriers.

Ilford’s Cultural Quarter is the perfect location for this, providing ample opportunities to experience cultural diversity, historic architecture, and art. Mercato Ilford will be more than simply a place to eat, it will have social impact programmes and community plans in place to tackle food poverty, educate on the importance of good nutrition and help address ongoing socio-economic issues within the community.”

As with all the Mercato Metropolitano markets, Mercato Ilford will be a London Living Wage employer. In January 2024, Mercato Metropolitano was recognised as a Mayor’s Good Work Standard employer for its commitment to paying the real Living Wage, and engagement with Living Hours and Living Wage place campaigns.

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Howard Dawber, Deputy Mayor for Business and Growth said: “I am delighted that Mercato Metropolitano has opened up a new market in Ilford, delivering another fantastic place to meet, eat and socialise in the capital. The Mercato model has proven to be a great asset to London’s hospitality sector and will play an important role in the regeneration of Ilford.

It will support local entrepreneurs, increase employment, boost life at night and drive footfall to the area offering a brilliant selection of food from around the world. As an accredited Good Work Standard employer, Andrea Rasca and his team will ensure their staff receive fair pay through the London Living Wage and benefit from good working conditions, helping to build a better London for all.”

Mark Baigent, Corporate Director of Regeneration and Culture at London Borough of Redbridge, said: “The opening of Mercato Metropolitano, right in the heart of Ilford is a shining example of regeneration, helping to create employment for local people, bringing in new opportunities for local traders, and encouraging visitors into our town centre.

It will give our communities somewhere to come together and enjoy some of the best and most diverse artisan food from local traders, with music and regular entertainment.”

Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “We are thrilled to see Mercato Metropolitano go from strength to strength with a real Living Wage for workers at its heart. Mercato Metropolitano’s commitment to the real Living Wage ensures its workers are always paid enough to live decent lives, vital after years of high living costs. It also sets a powerful example to other businesses in the hospitality industry, where 50% of workers are paid below the real Living Wage.

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Mercato’s continued expansion demonstrates that paying the real Living Wage is not only good for workers, it’s also an essential investment for businesses looking to succeed in challenging economic conditions. That’s why the Living Wage movement has continued to see record growth, with nearly 15,000 businesses committed to paying all their directly employed and contracted-out staff in line with living costs.”

Mercato Metropolitano Ilford will be open to the public from Thursday 11 July 2024 providing an abundance of fresh produce as well as a place to socialise, learn and have fun.

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