Greenwich Food Market To Be Given A Month’s Notice To Quit

Good heavens. It would seem that Greenwich Hospital Trust aren’t even bothering to hide that bully’s iron fist of theirs inside a velvet glove any more.

You’d think that with the appeal on their insensitive and intrusive market plans pending, they’d at least be TRYING to get locals on board. But if what I’m told by a local trader in the food market is true – and I have no reason to believe they’d lie over this, GHT appear to be actively engaged on a mission to alienate every man-jack-phantom of us – not to mention a fair few tourists and visitors from the rest of London into the bargain.

My market trader tells me:

“At a routine meeting with the Greenwich Hospital management yesterday, they dropped the bombshell that all the businesses in the food court were being ordered to leave with one month’s notice.”

What the hell are GHT playing at? Are they trying to sabotage Greenwich as an exciting tourist destination? I mean this would be devastating at any time of the year – but in high season?

“The meeting at the Trafalgar Tavern was billed as one of the regular three monthly traders’  meetings that Greenwich Hospital has set up since dismissing the USM management. About fifty traders were present,” my trader tells me. “The first item was the food market, where it was announced that they were reviewing the market’s “A3″ offering.”

“At the end of next week they will be sending out notices to all food traders, giving them one month’s notice to quit,” my trader continues. “The main reason given was that the restaurants and cafes on the island site had complained that the food court was becoming too big and successful and were undermining their own profitability. Additional reasons were cited as Greenwich is “really an arts and crafts market”, some other traders had complained about airborne smell and that Greenwich Borough environmental health was not happy with the present set up.”

Well – there could be some valid points in there, but surely most of these could be worked around. But my trader has very firm ideas about what’s really going on here.

“What’s really at play is that the Hospital generates much more revenue from leasing restaurants than it does from renting out market stalls at £100 for a weekend. Money is the driving factor and giving the visitor what it wants can go hang! “

As a sop to the traders, they are proposing that five hot food stalls will be allowed to trade from inside the former George II premises, meaning that about 20 small businesses will be losing their livelihoods.

I did hear a rumour on the jungle telegraph that certain local restaurants (use your imagination) are refusing to pay rent until something is done about the food court, which would be a powerful additional reason for GHT’s ditching the small guys with their woks, mini-pizza ovens and crepe-irons. After all a vibrant, cheap, varied, innovative and interesting meal on the hoof is probably rather more enticing to a tourist who wants to get the most out of Greenwich in a few short hours than sitting in some bland restaurant and paying substantial prices.

Heaven forbid that GHT would actually want to see the market succeed in its present form.


the attachments to this post:

food market low Paul
food market low Paul


50 Comments to “Greenwich Food Market To Be Given A Month’s Notice To Quit”

  1. Matt says:

    this is stupid! although I dont use any of the food stalls in the market they make a welcome diversion from the series of low budget rubbish that is the restaurants in the centre of Greenwich! while some of them have their merits/followings and uses certain tex mex outlets are blot on the landscape serving rubbish to tourists! We need fewer restaurants of greater quality in the town centre.

  2. scared of chives says:

    Completely agree TGP.

    “…restaurants and cafes on the island site had complained that the food court was becoming too big and successful and were undermining their own profitability.” Isn’t that what a healthy, competitive commercial environment is all about…?

    “Greenwich Borough environmental health was not happy with the present set up.” Can’t they just close down any traders who are not up to scratch, food hygiene-wise?

    I wonder if any of these clowns have ever visited the amazing markets in other towns and cities – here and abroad.

    I can’t think of one restuarant that’s any good around there – the good ones (eg Inside) – are nowhere near.

  3. Edith says:

    Madness! Is there anyone we can write to about this?

    I work locally and am a regular customer of the food stalls in the market, as they provide a generally good quality of food quickly for fairly reasonable prices – ideal for days where I’ve not made my own lunch or want more than a sandwich. Restaurants (even if they’re decent ones, which isn’t often the case in central Greenwich) are of little use for customers like me because of a) the price and b) lack of time. I was delighted when the food market was expanded and extended to Wednesdays a couple of years ago.

    I’d also suggest to the restaurants that if their business is suffering they need to up their game – bit of competition seems healthy here! A list of the objecting cafes/restaurants would be interesting to see…

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by IanVisits, darryl1974. darryl1974 said: RT @TGPhantom Greenwich Food Market traders to be given a month's notice to quit. http://bit.ly/b2g3DT [...]

  5. Steve says:

    This is a disaster! The food stalls are the heart and soul of the place!

    GHT are clearly now trying to kill off the market to get their way.

    What can we do about this?

  6. EnglishRose says:

    OMG. Is the hospital trust *completely* stupid? Foodie markets are incredibly popular these days- just look at Borough Market, which has been so successful that the chaps at Covent Garden are looking to copy the model.

    If I were the Trust, I’d be looking to establish a proper foodie market at least once a month but preferably at least once a week, with the aim of making Greenwich a real foodie ‘destination’. I’d keep the best of the stalls that are there at present and encourage independent producers to open stalls selling the sorts of product that you might find at a farmer’s market. The dreadfully dire, bland restaurants by the market could gradually be replaced with independent restaurants aimed at foodies (perhaps a bit more upmarket, so that they’re not competing for the same target audience as the hot food stalls) and perhaps a couple of quirky independent craft shops/antiques shops as well (which would appeal to those visiting the market on craft days and would also appeal to those who visit on food days).

    But instead it looks as though they’ve gone for a blind, short-termist approach that leaves us with naff restaurants and not much else. It’s almost as though they’re trying to kill off Greenwich step by step. What on earth are they playing at?

  7. The Sheila says:

    That’s disgraceful – is there anything we can do to support these traders?

  8. [...] Greenwich's beautiful and historical sites this summer? Seems you'd better forget the market: the Greenwich Phantom reports food traders have been given a month's notice by the owners, apparently because restaurants [...]

  9. OldChina says:

    Kicking these traders out because some local restaurants have decided they don’t like having competition is ludicrous. The stalls cater to a different need anyway.

    The food stalls are the best bit of the market. They’re THE reason I go in there every weekend. One of the high points of a trip through the market is picking which of the many enticing cuisines to go for. Especially in the summer where you can go eat it in the park, something you can’t do with restaurant food.

    If these stalls disappear I won’t be switching to the restaurants instead. It’s no reflection on the quality of the restaurants but I just don’t want a big sit down meal during the day when I’m bustling about doing stuff.

    It’s like GHT are making the most calculated decisions possible to kill Greenwich as somewhere anyone would want to be these days.

  10. The Last Stand of the 150 says:

    May I just add that the Hospital’s comments on enviromental health are just plain spurious. Greenwich council inspectors regularly scrutinise the food traders, some they advise on improvements, others they have awarded good food hygiene certificates. Their main “beef” is with the Hospital trust, in that they have not put the recommended infrastructure in place.
    It’s horribly ironic that GHT nurtured these micro-businesses in the first place to make the market a more attractive destination and now intend to put them to the sword.

  11. fontenoy says:

    Greenwich Hospital Trust are completely short sighted. I was at the market last weekend and the place was full and atmospheric, for tourist and for locals. If the surrounding cafe and restaurants aren’t pulling business from this attraction then it proves that they need to lift their game. There are few places in Greenwich that are currently worthwhile eating at. Greenwich is fast losing the attractions that make it vibrant and different eg the Greenwich Village (furniture) market

  12. Steve says:

    GHT are idiots. Why are they so determined to sabotage Greenwich?

    The main reason people aren’t using the nearby restaurants is because on the whole they are awful and overpriced. The restaurants should address that, not some perceived competition. Anyway, that’s what being in business is all about?

    The food stalls, meanwhile, are fun, diverse and a great reason to visit the market.

    I sense there is more to the story than meets the eye – GHT haven’t been so willing to listen to their tenants in the past – why listen to the restaurants now? They can only withhold rent (if they are) for so long…

  13. Richard says:

    Well, we coul always complain to our local MP….oh….

  14. Polar Bear says:

    We all seem to be complaining on a near continual basis but the question should be, “What can we do about it?” I appreciate that TGP isn’t a campaigning website so wouldn’t suggest to impose but we need somewhere to co ordinate a proper campaign.

    What about a protest where we actually turn up with banners and attract local (even national?) news?

    We need something more than mere words I fear.

  15. Liam Bland says:

    The restaurants are being ridiculous, the food market is one of the few things which draws tourists and visitors in by their hundreds. The restaurants should be pleased to be picking up business off the back of these stalls, otherwise there would be very little traffic at all.

    Inc Group own both of the pubs in the market square as well as a number of other pubs in the area. If they are allowed to oust the stalls then there is almost no cometitive element to where you eat, merely a monopoly for one company.

    Remove the food stalls and the arts and crafts stalls will suffer too, as will all of Greenwich. The independents are some of the few places you can get an alternative to the McRat patty, Sub-standard-way and various soggy pub-grub on offer in Greenwich, outside of the more expensive eateries.

    A strong food and craft market should be the making of town like Greenwich, with such a rich choice of historical attractions. What a disgusting turn of events this is.

  16. Kicki says:

    The reason that the restaurants are losing custom is because only the Mogul is good/non-chains – whereas the food stalls in the market serve excellent food.

    They are the only reason I visit the tourist trap Greenwich nowadays, so it’ll be a shame to see them go.

  17. Talbot says:

    What GHT thinking? They seem to want to sabotage everything that works with Greenwich. I read this post with horror!!

    Echoing comments above, the restuarants arround the market are horrid and tacky. If they are losing bussiness it is their fault for being rubbish – perhaps they should also shut M&S as the queues are always very long with people buying food to take away?!

    Can anything be done? Local papers etc? Dare I say it would the evening standard be interested?

    Just a thought but is their any particular individual that owns many of the crap surrounding grotty high street? Its seems to me that someone stands to make a lot of money by turning the market into a generic street of chains; who is this?

  18. Donovan says:

    Scandalous! Closing the food court won’t make me eat at the other places in central Greenwich. It will just mean I’m less likely to walk over to central Greenwich on the weekend. Diversity and quality are the victims here. Fewer, worse food places is hardly what Greenwich needs – the food on offer at the market was beginning to get the sort of attention that might bring people to Greenwich and if the Hospital Trust can’t see they’re shooting themselves in the foot, then they should be reading this blog…

  19. Ben says:

    What are they thinking of? seriously the market is such a popular tourist destination its ludicrous to stop selling food, ok I understand if resturants are feeling the squeeze but who isn’t these days and to be honest I prefer the food in the market to most of the resturants in Greenwich. Well I would vote to keep them if I could.

  20. Wolfe says:

    I think you may have all gone a bit mad. The market will be a MUCH nicer place to visit without so many food stalls a bit like it was..er…just a couple of years ago before they began to proliferate. Try going down to the College Approach entrance on a nice weekend, like the one just gone -it’s not that pleasant. The entrance is blocked (oo-er), and so is the street outside, with people eating out of foil trays. Before anyone suggests it, there really isn’t room inside for an eating area because it’s jammed with…food stalls.

    And maybe, just maybe, there might be some room for some of the ex-Village Market traders to return instead of having a selection of stalls selling the stuff you can get in open air spaces all over London. I suspect that the majority of the non-food traders would probably agree. If you’re after a unique, hotel-free market then an ever-growing mass of generic take-aways (very little is foodie) probably isn’t the way to go…

  21. David boyle says:

    This is terrible. There goes one of the main reasons I walk in to Greenwich on the weekend.

  22. Bergin says:

    This is outrageous and illogical. Surely there is room for discussion???? Why would the GHT want to get rid of such a thriving part of greenwich??? I go to the market for the food and then look around and pick up crafts. Is someone organising against this? I”d happily get involved. This one is a no brainer: the food stalls must stay.

  23. Grumbles says:

    Totally agree with the above – I love the food court area and have no desire to eat elsewhere. If shut I can only see the business moving across to M&S (which already has queues snaking around the store).

    Mind you, reading that the Hospital is only getting £100 per weekend per stall…this does sound very low to me having watched tourists handing over fistfuls of money for back massages, cups of ginger tea etc.

  24. Penny Lane says:

    I would think places like M&S who are paying big rent are not selling enough bland sandwiches and are putting the pressure on.

  25. scared of chives says:

    @Wolfe

    There are loads of stalls/markets selling hand-made bangles too.

    20 food stalls out of 100(?) doesn’t seem a bad balance – and as others have said – picking up this kind of food suits people better than sitting in a restaurant waiting to be served.

    Ever been to, say, Thailand?

  26. The Last Stand of the 150 says:

    Yes there is something you can do about this. Starting this weekend a petition will be avaialable to sign on most of the food stalls. Get yourself down there in the next few weeks and make sure your voice is heard!

  27. Adrian says:

    Cetain restaurant owners? Easy to guess who we mean if the rumour is truw that the Cricketers / Powder Monkey / Lan Tiki Lounge is going to become Ye Olde Authentic Inc Group Fish n Chip shop.

  28. Greenwich Sandwich says:

    What a load of shite. Free market economics but only when it suits you…

  29. Peterson says:

    To consider the loss here we must observe what is on offer, by way of market stalls in it’s place. Well, there are psychics, god knows we all need them and, the rest, a mixture of jumble sale goods, cosmetics and over priced T-Shirts and paintings (not so many being soled I reckon). I Agree with all above in relation to quality and diversity, the food being offered is all that attracts anyone there. To add to Liam’s point the Inc group also own the George restaurants as well as pubs surrounding the market, perhaps the proprietor should try using some imagination, change the order of things to make those places more attractive and competitive… not displace the heart and flavour of Greenwich.

  30. Gwich South St says:

    Hmmm,this is a shame! I love going for a crepe, some sushi or a cupcake on the weekend from the market.

    Seems to me that the Incgroup owns most restaurants/pubs near the market, wonder if they have anything to do with this?

  31. TPlautus says:

    If the restaurants are suffering from the food stalls then the restaurants need to improve to compete.

    Chris Rhodes seems to do quite well, judging by the queues in his shop, offering very high quality goods; the Old Brewery also looks as though it’s doing well. These are 2 recently-opened outlets selling high quality food which seem quite capable of competing with the food stalls. The other restaurants in the area should respond accordingly instead of whinging.

    Giving in to these restaurants can only lead to deterioration in the overall levels of food quality on offer, and the whole enjoyment of the market.

  32. TPlautus says:

    it’s Paul Rhodes, of course. Not Chris. Sorry.

  33. The food court is the best part about Greenwich Market. It’s got a great vibe, the standard of food is high and you can eat your way around the world. All this is on our doorstep and now Greenwich Hospital want to kill it off. Markets offering a high standard of street food is the future. We’re all sick of frequenting bland M&S, Tesco, Pret and the like for a quick bite to eat. I’ll sign the petition against the food court’s closure for sure.

  34. Runa says:

    I don’t mind the food stalls being replaced by other arts and crafts stalls- they add nice touch to the market, without all the trash that invariably grows around food stalls (people throwing litter on the road etc). But if they are being shut down to increase the monopoly power of the restaurants, then definitely GHT does not have my support.
    Competition is the basic principle of the free market economy we live in. And to survive, the restaurants have to serve better food than the junk they serve, provide better service and charge more reasonable prices. All the restaurants around Greenwich Market serve really bad food and there isn’t much to choose between them. For instance, there’s not a single nice date-place around here— see how well Shoreditch has built up its rep as a really cool place.

  35. Damian says:

    Can someone set up an online petition too? I’m sure there’ll be a lot of outraged people like myself who can’t make it down the next couple of weekends, or will only hear via word-of-email.

    The food market is the prime attraction for me – I have quite enough gardeners’ hand cream / silver jewelry / shawls / postcards. How many locals stop by to grab a bite to eat, and would otherwise simply pass by?

  36. Greenwich Resident says:

    I have nothing new to add, just wanted to agree with what others have written- what a disgrace! I LOVE the food market. I live really close to the market but regularly choose to eat there instead of my own home because the food on some of the stalls is so tasty.
    I have also often complained at the lack of decent restaurants in Greenwich. As for the stalls killing off trade, a packed Pizza Express and Inside can counter that arguement. If people want a sit down meal at a DECENT restaurant they will still go.
    I will miss the pleasures of market food. I really hate GHT, with a passion.

  37. Russell says:

    During my visit to the market today, that i have done almost every weekend for the three years since moving to London, i was told about the notice to quit.

    In my opinion this food market is the heart of Greenwich, and i am always proud to bring family members and visitors from out of town to this site of cosmopolitanism objectified in this fantastic mix of quality food.

    In fact, the only words to describe it are – utterly pissed off!
    Furthermore, most of the restaurants are mediocre anyway…

    I am going to write to the hospital trust now.

  38. MsW says:

    I am appalled.
    i)On the point of food hygiene, I would choose the food stalls any day because they bring their produce in on the day, it is fresh and cooked there right in front of you. How many of the restaurants in the market buildings have been condemned by environmental health for poor hygiene and failing to control pest infestations? Soteri’s, Itoshi, San Miguel all had failed before.
    ii) The variety and quality offered by the food stalls is so much better than any of the touristy stuff served at any of the restaurants. My other half works in Greenwich on Saturdays and he says if it’s shut he’s going to give it up as it’s the only thing he looks forward to!
    iii) I was at the market today talking to a number of traders; there is something a bit fishy going on. Frank the Yank chooses 3 traders to operate from George. Inc Group also own the Coach and Horses and Admiral Hardy inside the market, plus other operations across the road. I wonder which restaurants had complained? Hmmmmm.

  39. cremeanglaise says:

    We have been given a minimum of one month notice to move our business elsewhere. I am still in shock and worried about the future. Our life revolves around the market and for most of us it is our only income. As market traders paying rent on weekly basis with we have little rights (less than squatters). There are 19 stalls selling mainly hot food promoting regional and cultural diversity. That 50 people’s income!
    We employ locale people, we rent units for food storage and preparation, we have mortgages to pay and kids to feed. At last week meeting we asked for a farer notice period (until after Christmas) and we also ready to make changes in the way we work, reduce the hot food offer and the size of our stalls. We have been invited to another meeting onTuesday 13 July at the GeorgeII 11h30.
    I would like to think that they will consider our request but they have bigger plans that don’t include us. We know that Frank Dowling is planning to clear out the trailers at the Fountain food court in Greenwich (yes he also own that) and replace them with state of the art kiosks charging £20 000 a year rent. Greenwich market traders haven’t been offered to trade in this location and we found out about it by pure chance. The actual traders at the Fountain food court are selling off their food outlet at the moment.
    Our petition at the market this weekend reached our target of 2000 signatures, we will do what we can to increase our notice period. Any outside help we can get will be more than welcome, our livelihood depends on it. Relocation could be an option if Greenwich council is willing to get involved and let us trade within Greenwich in another location. Thank you to all the people who given us their supports and we hope it can make a difference.
    cremeanglaise1@aol.com

  40. j garcia says:

    As from today we have an online petition:

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/foodcourt/
    Please, please sign up. If you are unable to visit the market to join the growing band of 2000 (+) people who have registered their disapproval this is your opportunity to make your voice heard.

  41. Umesh Patel says:

    There should be more markets across London!

  42. The Hot Food Market is the only reason I come to Greenwich Market every week.
    We come in for a quick bite to eat and then browse the stalls before going off to see the sights of Greenwich.
    Its a useful place to take my many American and German visitors and they always enjoy eating “on the hoof”, and not being delayed in their tourist visit.

  43. Mike Dawson says:

    As editor of an international food blog, I have been to the Greenwich market several times and often take friends when I am in London. Yes, we eat in the restaurants of an evening, but during the weekend it is delightfully uncomplicated to try the food stalls at the market. Surely there are horses for courses. Those who love handfood will buy it anyway, regardless of whether the “powers that be” close the food stalls down. Those who want to eat a larger meal at a restaurant will continue to do so. Closing the food stalls down will only impoverish local infrastructure, colour, flair and ambience. Don’t kill the goose! People who buy at markets also eat, some in restaurants, some at food stalls. It’s the mix that counts. Reducing the overall food offer will not necessarily promote custom at the restaurants and runs the risk of reducing total customer footfall to the area.

  44. Richard says:

    I am sure there must be a legal case here against the shops or ght for trying to run an anti-competitive cartell. Surely it goes
    against the free Market.

    Now I understand why most of the restaurants around the island are so shabby and poor – immunity to proper competition. It’s a stitched up old boys club.

    The other aspect for legal advice is around the fact that Greenwich is a world heritage site and therefore a big tourist attraction. It may be that this special status means ght can’t just do what it likes if it goes against the best interests of the area.

    Anyway, somebody needs to talk to a lawyer because I think se of this may actually be illegal behaviour.

  45. Local Resident says:

    Can cremeanglaise or any other market traders post an update on the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting? Has an extension been granted?

  46. Dennis says:

    Come to think of it, there has been a bit of a generic fried food stench around the market lately.

    But.

    This seems to be around the southern end of the market – food stalls are at the other end – occurs when the market is not open – and only seems to be have been smelling for the past six weeks or so.

    I reckon the source is more likely a poorly maintained extractor fan on the north side of Nelson Road.

  47. Itu says:

    We visited our Food Court favourite, Baguette & More stall for lunch yesterday and the lady said this was her last day but that she is moving to a cafe in Deptford. Will endeavour to find it and report back as her food is certainly worth the trip.

  48. j garcia says:

    I attended the meeting with GHT last Tuesday. Greenwich Hospital have modified their stance slightly but are still intent on reducing the food court to a stub. They are no longer issuing everybody with one month’s notice and have agreed to reconsider the plainly unworkable idea to select six stalls to operate from the George II premises. However, they are not backing down from removing hot food businesses from the market. Word is that they will be doing this by stealth, removing individual businesses one at a time.
    If you value the market as it is, for its convenience, utilty and downright likeability please sign our online petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/foodcourt

  49. Umi.L says:

    I considered for so long whether buying those paintings or not as I live in Hong Kong , it is not so convinient for me to take those fabulous painting back to Hong Kong. And now I am so regret for my wrong decision, so I really wanna know more about the stall.

    Does anyone know the website of the stall or any other information of that stall? I really want to buy those paintings if online shopping is avaliable …I would be so thankful if anyone can tell me any details. Thank you.