Founded in 2011, GrabThai brings the freshness and unique flavours of Thai street food to London. This fantastic local chain has 6 locations at the time of writing, with more planned. The idea behind the chain is simple yet brilliant: experienced chefs create fabulous Thai dishes using fresh, sustainable ingredients. Nothing is kept for more than a day, ensuring that customers receive high quality, tasty meals packed with good things. The grab-and-go style of the food makes it popular with office workers, tourists and locals alike, making Leadenhall Market an ideal location for the chain.
Location: Leadenhall, London
Project Completed: 1st February 2018
To create a practical, attractive takeaway space in the foodie destination of Leadenhall Market. Leadenhall is now a major tourist destination as well as a popular spot for locals to get lunch, so GrabThai would be competing with established businesses as well as hoping to snag passing trade. The fit out would therefore need to make it easy for customers to understand the concept and to use it. A highly efficient cooking space was also required, as GrabThai emphasizes the importance of well-prepared meals. And all this would need to coexist in a small, 19th century market stall space.
Leadenhall market dates back at least as far as the 14th century. The current glass-roofed structure is a Grade II Listed building completed in 1881. Changing the fabric or character of a listed building is not permitted, and additional requirements were set by the Leadenhall Market management. A beautiful Victorian building, the listed features include the stalls and elements within them, so as well as doing a fit-out in a restricted space, it was imperative to create a look which was sympathetic to the existing ornate, British, Victorian style while also reflecting the modern, deliberately simple, Thai background of GrabThai.
Careful preparation was essential for this project, as breaching the Leadenhall Market restrictions would have meant expensive rework, and accidentally damaging the listed building could have been disastrous. Over 4 weeks, a full fit-out was completed, including a stylish shop front, efficient serving area and practical kitchen. Using a mix of off-the-shelf and bespoke elements, the workspaces and public space were put together within time and within budget. Transforming a Victorian market stall space designed to hold fish, vegetables and similar produce into a modern kitchen and eatery was a challenge Fernwood Interiors were proud to meet.
GrabThai has a deliberately simple aesthetic in their branches which might seem at odds with the ornately Victorian Leadenhall Market, but we were able to find a design which brought the two into harmony. Fernwood Interiors are proud to have successfully incorporated period Victorian features into a stylish yet practical modern design. The GrabThai location at Leadenhall Market is an excellent symbol of London’s place as a world city. Just as the delicious Thai food is strengthened by flavours brought from across the world, Leadenhall Market – and London itself – is strengthened by ideas and entrepreneurs from around the globe.