Network Rail, the station operator, is embracing street food as part of its vision to create destination stations as it plans to implement its London model in regional stations

The first phase of its £12.5m remodelling of Euston Station has been unveiled as part of plans to completely overhaul the food and beverage offering with a focus on street food.

As previously flagged up by M&C, the line-up includes three street food brand that worked with SSP to create a permanent presence as part of the station’s  Junction Urban Street Food.

Gourmet hot dog vendor Big Apple Hot Dogs, artisan coffee and healthy eating concept Beany Australia and The Rib Man join Mi Casa Burritos – the second site for the SSP brand - and Itsu on the station’s outside concourse opposite Ed’s Easy Diner.

SSP has worked closely with consultant Richard Johnson of British Street Food to present the concepts in a way that will meet passenger needs and remain true to the brands that have established reputations on the street food circuits of London and at festivals and events.

Later in the year three casual dining units will open on the mezzanine at Euston station, which M&C understands will include a Leon, Gino D’Campo’s first unit with SSP and a Greene King pub.

A redevelopment of the whole food court will follow as the final stage of the project, which Network Rail anticipates to be completed by the start of 2016.

Hamish Kiernan, director of retail at Network Rail said the redevelopment is to improve the offering to passengers and to make the station a destination in its own right – something that is being done across the whole network of 18 stations.

He told M&C Network Rail is looking to improve the food and beverage offering at regional stations after upgrading its London estate.

As well as all the London terminals (excluding Marylebone and Fenchurch Street) Network Rail operates Birmingham New Street, Liverpool, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh. In the past year it acquired Reading and Bristol.

Kiernan said: “We want to take all the learnings we’ve had from the southeast and take that out to the regions as well. There will be a slight variation on mix but that’s how we want to take everything forward.”

Simon Smith, chief executive of SSP told M&C the three new brands are a part of SSP’s strategy to continually innovate.

He said the challenge of converting the offering of street food vendors to a railway station setting including building up a breakfast offering, which SSP developed in partnership with each of the operators to capitalise on the importance of the breakfast market.

Kiernan added: “We need to try to put more decent offers for the public. We knew a lot about the three operators we put in and in the first week we’ve already seen how much of a success it has been. It’s actually catering for a customer demographic of people travelling through the station – we are serving people across all spectrums.

“One of my key roles is to drive that destination station concept so we have to cater for everyone. If we didn’t start trying the likes of street food it would be somewhere else so it is key for us to get in there and work with SSP.”

At present Network Rail works with 150 brands that occupy its c500 units in its 18 stations.

“We know here that 20% of people who use the station don’t actually travel. Around Euston there aren’t a lot of places for people to eat so we know people in the surrounding areas come here. It’s great because that is exactly what we want to do – for people in the area as well as the traveling public.”

Johnson of British Street Food became involved in the project five years ago to bring the operators to a different platform.

He said there can be mistrust from both sides of such an arrangement when a vendor works with a larger business to maintain the reputation they built up on the street. To ensure this, Johnson told M&C each of the traders will maintain their presence on the street as well as at the station.

Abiye Cole of Big Apple Hotdogs, said he is keen to work with SSP again on future projects because of the positive relationship they have built and access to skills and experience that would not have been available to him alone.

“I’ve been genuinely impressed and surprised by SSP – they really get the brand and they ‘got it’ and haven’t messed around with it. Looking at what they’ve done and the level of care they’ve taken to implement my ideas in a way I can’t is really exciting,” Cole told M&C.

Rib Man, the brainchild of former butcher Mark Gevaux, has built up a strong following at street food markets for its slow-cooked baby back ribs and homemade sauces.

Gevaux, who left butchery after losing a leg in an accident, told M&C: “Bringing street food to a station is a phenomenal idea: There are lots of street food markets around London but for working people it’s hard to get to them.”

He said he would love to see Rib Man at more stations and airports, providing the Euston Station unit is popular, but is less interested in high street locations.

Euston is the third London site for Beany Australia – it also has sites adjacent to Liverpool Street and Paddington stations. At Euston it will operate from 7am to 11pm offering travellers coffees, pastries and cakes as well as salads made freshly on site.