Everyone knows about pop-up restaurants in big cities, but could the motorised deli-cafe be the next big thing?
Once associated solely with ice cream or burgers, food vans (big, well-equipped ones) offering quality fare are seen as the way ahead by the entrepreneurs behind Nic’s Wee Deli and Donuts, which massively raises the “street food” game by offering restaurant quality food in a “just drop by” format.
Flexible, accessible, devoid of frills and flounces, they’re seen as a cost-effective way of bringing great food to an appreciative clientele.
Former Douglas Academy student Emma Toner can fairly claim to be in the van-guard (sorry) of this emerging trend, having recently opened a Nic’s franchise on Woodlands Road, next to the Sainsbury Garage, in one of the most genuinely interesting and bohemian stretches of the sometimes over-hyped West End.
She’s a recent graduate from Caledonian University with an Honour degree in business, and - at the heart of the area’s hectic student milieu - often works 12-hour shifts, catering for a late night market until 4am.
Her customer offer is a pleasant change from the archetypal chips n’ kebabs staple of late-opening takeaways, and is reportedly cutting a distinctive dash in a prime site where there is no shortage of discerning customers ... at any time of day,
She works incredibly hard and puts a lot of time and effort into creating new and innovative ways for customers coming back for more (such as the new rainbow crepe, or calzone pizza crepe).
There’s “The Elvis”, the “Reuben meets Rachel”, the “Kinchi Surprise” and the “Voodoo Maharajah”, to name just a random sample of the imaginative and freshly-prepared treats on offer.
At a time when the West End, for all its great cafes and restaurants, is over-subscribed with endless reworkings of pizzas n’ burgers it’s arguably a refreshing and inspirational change from standard issue fare - and for the late night crowd who actually care what they’re eating a fascinating departure from the bland, the dull, and the stodgy.
For food entrepreneurs Glasgow is a difficult market to crack, and many innovators have reluctantly been forced to concede that only the utterly predictable really offers a guaranteed safe return - but this sort of venture may well be the “something completely different” that breaks the mould.