A new community initiative in Aldgate will be aiming to return footfall to the area’s vast and varied hospitality sector when it launches next month.
Aldgate Eats – a play on Aldgate East tube station – launches in late July and will be hosted by different local venues at each event.
With the aim of supporting the hospitality sector, the scheme is the brainchild of Merchant Land, in collaboration with the Aldgate BID team. Merchant Land will be sponsoring the first session by providing free food for guests, who will then provide further support by purchasing their drinks to accompany the food and conversation.
The initiative was put into action following an impromptu meetup between those attending a meanwhile art exhibition – organised by the BID and Merchant Land – in a vacant unit late last year. Both Zoe Barwick, Aldgate BID Manager and Katherine McCullough, Development Director (Head of UK Property), Merchant Land, were part of a small group who went for a drink after the exhibition.
Zoe said: “We sat down, networked and had a really nice chat – and we realised we missed it the incidental and planned networking events the City had to offer.
“It’s essentially a platform for locally-minded people to come together and talk about the neighbourhood, their plans and hopes for the future of the area. These types of things have been much missed and it’s a great opportunity to support our hospitality sector and encourage people to start spending again. We can’t wait.
“This is a great local and practical application of the recovery promotional campaigns namely the Let’s Do London mayoral campaign and CLA’s #londonloveaffair”
Katherine said: “Having been in our office here in Aldgate regularly throughout the pandemic I’m aware of how deserted the area has become. I’ve really seen the scars out there on the hospitality industry – places might be open and it is busier, but there’s a combination now of staff shortages and reduced menus because there’s no guarantees on numbers.
“In between lockdowns we’ve tried a few things to bring people back into the area, including the art exhibition. There were six of us who then went to a restaurant to continue our evening and it was the first time we’d been out and chatting since the pandemic took hold.
“And we thought it would be really cool to get people out, once it becomes safe, into venues and networking.”
The branding, approved by Transport for London, was paid for by Merchant Land in conjunction with the BID – but Katherine is keen to ensure it is for everyone – and any business can get involved.
“We’re really keen for other businesses to take part and sponsor this initiative and it’ll be nice to remind people how nice we’ve got it here in Aldgate.
“We might be landowners but it’s not just a property networking thing. It’s about getting people from all sectors to come together and create useful connections and share their experiences of the pandemic and hopes post-COVID.
“We’re hoping to make it a relaxed event with good food to build a community post-pandemic.”