GLASGOW councillors have backed a vision for an “iconic community hub and foodie destination” in an empty Yorkhill warehouse big enough to cater for 400 people from 10 pop-up kitchens.
Section 33 Ltd had already kitted out and opened the Dockyard Social in Haugh Road, attracting a loyal following, when it had to close because it did not have planning permission. The city’s planning applications committee has now approved the retrospective development which, in understated official terms, is described as a “restaurant and non-residential institution.”
In practice, its operators have big, community-led plans for a “destination street food hub helping to support start-ups but with a unique in-house school to help Glasgow’s most disadvantaged inhabitants”, making the building a “place of enjoyment, employment and opportunity.”
Their statement to the planning department explained: “The principal use of the site will be the training school, proposed to run five days a week. This will be complemented by a licensed street food operation providing up to 400 covers with a potential maximum occupancy of no more than 499 persons including the general bar areas.
“Glasgow currently lacks a venue of this style, scale and a home-from-home feeling combined with a large selection of food and drink that caters for a multitude of palates, tastes and dietary requirements.
“The Dockyard Social will be an iconic community hub and foodie destination in Glasgow’s vibrant West End. Within a converted industrial warehouse, it will be famed for its sights, smells and sounds as a food and drink hall with a strong sense of social conscience, created, owned and run by passionate people who have the local community’s interests and causes at heart.
“Our aim is to provide an incomparable and unique experience that constantly changes and evolves whilst also being part of the solution to many of the problems we currently face within our society and industry.
“Our dedicated training academy will train, inspire and nurture talented individuals to become involved in the hospitality industry, working with prominent brands and industry leaders, instilling them with passion for the food and drink industry and arming them with the drive and skills they need to have a successful career. The academy will be used to support great causes and and initiatives across the country working alongside local and national charities.
“There will also be a specific employability service for local homeless/unemployed people who can benefit from accessing training, work experience, career support and job matching. These employment programmes will be in partnership with local and national charities.
The statement continues: “Four nights a week, chefs from across the country take residency in one of the 10 rentable pop-up kitchens and begin to cook their dishes to test on the hungry willing public. The concept of a hub of street food hawkers is not new, but the difference here is that this is not a temporary pop-up; this is a permanent fixture to Glasgow’s food scene, something research strongly suggests will be well received. To keep the venue fresh and current, the trades can only take a pitch for a maximum of four weekends.
“Traders will be varied from established restaurant businesses who want to test out new menus, up-and-coming chefs who would like the chance to start their own venture but don’t have the funds to buy their own restaurant business, and existing street food traders looking for a more regular pitch.
“Trainees from the day school will have the opportunity to gain real work experience in a safe supported environment by supporting the venue whilst in operation. New jobs will be created to support the daily operations of this venue.
“Essentially the money each customer is spending is going to support start-ups, small businesses and new jobs for their
community and the wider community of Glasgow.”
The venue also aims to run an indoor farmers’ market and free tea dances for local pensioners.
A report to city councillors stated: “It should be noted that works have already taken place at the property and the application is retrospective, however, the operation of the business has been suspended until the application is concluded. The venue did offer live music, however, this is no longer part of the operation.”
“The proposal will bring in a permanent use to a former warehouse which has been struggling to find an established business. The use also involves community-led projects which will benefit the local area.”
The committee heard that the operation came to light after complaints about noise. A lot of expense had been gone to in converting the premises and failure to get planning permission appeared to be an “innocent mistake.”