Business park picked to open new food court

CRATE Walthamstow in 17&Central will feature street food vendors, a bar, event spaces and a mini-golf course

By Victoria Munro

The design for the nature-inspired mini-golf course (credit: CRATE)

The team behind the borough’s own version of Boxpark have been chosen to run a food court in Walthamstow’s rebuilt shopping centre.

CRATE, near St James Street Station, is a business park made of shipping containers, which opened in 2019 and hosts a number of independent local businesses, organisations and events.

The CRATE team was chosen from a number of bidders to run an exciting space in the rebuilt 17&Central, formerly the Mall, in Walthamstow Town Centre.

CRATE Walthamstow will host seven street food vendors; a cocktail, wine, and craft beer bar; two event spaces with regular classes and a nine-hole mini-golf course.

Peter Harper from CRATE told the Echo the 17&Central deal has been in the works for two years and will finally materialise this summer.

He said the new space will “work hand in hand” with the existing St James Street location when it comes to “entertainment and events” and mirror its “community feel” by offering a gallery space to showcase local creative talent.

(Credit: CRATE)

While CRATE originally pitched a retro arcade-themed space, 17&Central were particularly keen to have a mini-golf course to provide something accessible for kids and families.

Peter’s colleague Dannie Hodson said they designed the course as a tribute to the borough’s nature, with one hole featuring a miniature Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge in Chingford.

She said: “There was a bit of an uproar about all the greenery that’s going around the town square [because of the redevelopment] so we wanted to show that we still appreciate the nature around the borough.”

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Peter and Dannie met while managing The Bell pub in Walthamstow seven years ago, under former manager Andy Potter, which she said meant they “know the local area really well”.

This motivated them to make sure that the bar in their space will still offer drinks “at an accessible price point”, such as at least two beers under £5, “for everyday drinkers”.

Dannie said: “We know the old Walthamstow boys and the crew really well, because we used to serve them, and we want to make sure they’re still welcome.”

(Credit: CRATE)

This ethos will extend to the hiring process for CRATE Walthamstow, with the team looking to “target people in the borough first” to fill their vacancies. This has involved holding off on posting job listings online and reaching out to local youth group Project Zero to see if their older teenagers want to apply.

Peter said: “We’re really proud of the work we do for the community. [Before CRATE St James Street] this place was a carpark and quite an undesirable location, there were often people in tents shooting up.

“My boss went to the council and offered to redevelop this site as a temporary measure for five years, although it looks like the council wants us to stay for the foreseeable future.

“We don’t limit ourselves on who we work with, we want this to be an accessible space for anyone and everyone to use. There’s some really lovely people in the community here and it’s been great to be able to support them.”

He added that CRATE St James Street has offered fledgling local businesses a space to grow and eventually outgrow, with past occupants like restaurant Hanoi Cà Phê and barbers CoveE17 moving out into more permanent homes.

Vendors already set to open in CRATE Walthamstow include Yorkshire Burrito, Hanoi Kitchen, Carne, and Nanny Bill’s.

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