Your Stories

  • Dominic Cools-Lartigue, Founder of Street Feast, UK

    I became a father at 35 and my newly born son immediately sat in a rather empty field of responsibility in my life. Up until that point I had consciously avoided a pension, savings, mortgage and marriage. I always felt I had plenty of time. I had in fact challenged myself to become sufficiently successful in business to negate the need to siphon off whatever money I had at that time into a pension, justifying my choice to use those funds to enrich the fast and loose lifestyle I lived at that time. Ultimately I had left it so late that this was actually my only option of potentially providing for my older self.

    When my son was 2 years old I left a 15-year career organising music events to embark on a journey that would see my new business Street Feast be at the forefront of a new night-market culture in London. I’d been looking for a new challenge for quite some time. In the latter years of organising music events, while watching my customers, I wondered why many of them, particularly those in their 30s like myself, were still out. Couldn’t they find what they were getting here anywhere else in society? Obviously the highs of a dance floor are unique; however there was clearly a lack of regular opportunities for congregating en masse in this manner, that wasn’t accompanied by a thumping bass line. Street Feast changed this. While essentially a food market, its success also owes something to being an opportunity to socialise in large groups, with a freedom not afforded in a restaurant or a pub, which appealed not only to foodies but also to aging clubbers, non-music fans, and a younger post-rave generation.

    One of the biggest successes for me in launching Street Feast is seeing so many people in their 30s, former accountants, media buyers, town planners, all with a love of food, leaving the security of their day job, and taking the plunge not just to be their own boss, but to be involved everyday with their passion, food. I’ve seen so many of them not only enjoy working in food, but also being part of a supportive community, and thriving, opening restaurants, writing books, and appearing on TV, wonderful new chapters in their lives which once would have been just a dream.

    Just as so many of these food traders are now running their own businesses centred on their passions and interest, Street Feast has afforded me the opportunity to do the same. Just as I spent time watching people in clubs, wondering what else they might like to do, I’ve also been doing this at Street Feast. What I’ve noticed is that while for some the culinary and social experience that night markets like Street Feast offer is sufficient, there are those who are itching for more. I am now about to open a venue, which will add a defined cultural program across live music, theatre, and film, to a rich culinary and social experience. After four years of Street Feast and just working on food and drink, I can now commit to an endeavour that involves more of my personal interests, while continuing my work on the evolution of how we socialise.

    I’m 42 now, and my son is 7 years old. We spend every weekend together. I travel when I can, though never for more than a fortnight, because I don’t like to be away from him for too long. With the launch of the new business I see the next ten years as a new chapter, taking me into my 50s, and my son to the end of his secondary school education. At that point I can imagine I’ll be ready for a new challenge, or even quite possibly a break to reassess. I’ve lived in London my whole life, and I look forward to the day I have the personal freedom to be away for longer than a fortnight night and really immerse myself in another culture. That’s as far as I’m looking ahead. I’m still not making any plans for old age other than sticking to my original challenge to myself. However the landscape changes, whatever changes there are in society, I’ll keep watching and creating experiences I think that are right for that time, and also take us forward.

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