Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) became landlord of the Lockmeadow in 2019 when it bought out the long leasehold interest of the complex. The food hall will consist of eight units with communal seating and facilities and will breathe new life into the leisure centre.
Lockmeadow has been hit by Covid-19 restrictions and with the future of many restaurant brands looking uncertain, the food hall concept will allow local producers to take a small space at a low cost and risk, allowing smaller, unique brands to showcase their finest foods.
MBC has already received several expressions of interest from local independent quality caterers to move in to the food hall and is now inviting others to take up the opportunity of this amazing space in the complex.
Cllr Paul Harper, Chair of the MBC Economic Regeneration and Leisure Committee said:
“This is an exciting time for Lockmeadow as we recover from lockdown. The food hall will bring together a wide variety of international foods and we are looking for local businesses who may be looking for premises without the huge set up costs and risk.
“When Maidstone Borough Council purchased Lockmeadow in 2019, one of our biggest objectives was to make it work for our local economy. By providing an option for local, independent food providers to operate in a popular location, we are offering the best of both worlds; great food for our diverse community and an affordable space for local businesses.
“The package we are offering is realistic for fledgling food businesses and we are on the hunt to bring to Maidstone some niche food offerings.”
The food hall has already secured its first tenant, The Gourmet Griddle, which was set up as a drive-thru behind Lockmeadow, providing free-range gourmet beef burgers which have become a popular edition during lockdown and already has great plans for their food hall space.
James Davis from The Gourmet Griddle added:
“We knew the plans for the food hall were on the horizon when we took the drive-thru space at Lockmeadow. We have been extremely popular since locating ourselves here and it is good to know that our audiences want our food. This has given us the confidence to take that step further into the food hall, we are very excited.”
Following the Committee meeting when the plans for the food hall were approved Cllr Harper also referred to the proposals to improve road access to Hart Street, and the current proposal being looked at to ease the problems with Hart Street and Barker Street saying:
“If these issues can be partially alleviated then the additional traffic from the food hall at Lockmeadow and a re-opened ODEON Luxe cinema will be able to be absorbed."
Lockmeadow will also be asking the public for their opinions on which foods they would like to enjoy at Lockmeadow and will use that information to help select interested parties.
Independent food caterers who would like an information pack and more details about the food hall are asked to please contact Alexa Kersting-Woods and email: AlexaKerstingWoods@maidstone.gov.uk
The food hall is part of improvements to Lockmeadow which also includes an outside terrace for alfresco dining and a children’s play area between the stag sculpture and the River Medway.