Cities where the street food culture is expanding can help the street life thriving. Good food can do more than just satisfy a hungry stomach; it can also make a significant difference in urban neighborhoods.
Individuals can form human relationships as a result of the food, and it is something that makes people feel like they’re a part of their city in ways that don’t always happen indoors. Standing shoulder to shoulder with other people eating at a market certanly brings us closer together, which can help our healing from the long time lockdowns and lack of social connections in the past years.
We spoke on the topic of how street food and marketplaces have an impact on the city’s areas with Ms. Hollie Lin, CGO of the Manifesto Market, and we learned some interesting details about their Prague venue and future plans.
Tell us first, what is your role at Manifesto?
Like other members in the founding team, my role evolved over the last few years. Currently, I am leading various aspects of the company's growth, so that we can welcome more guests and make them happy, that goes with creating more jobs and creating better revenue for our chefs and tenants. I take of the growth and all aspects of it, except the geographic expansion of Manifesto. This is Martin Barry’s specialty.
What was Mr. Barry’s inspiration behind opening the Manifesto Market? Did he have previous experience in similar projects overseas?
Martin is a place maker. Both of us care about creating real places to make people smile. Being from Taipei, Taiwan, I grew up with the night market culture. Since I moved to Europe, I really missed the food, the variety, the chaos and the vibrant energy of those places. On the flip side, I also like to utilize my professional experience from YouTube and Google to manage and scale this kind of experience.
Martin has an extensive experience from landscape architecture and ambitious redevelopment projects in many cities around the Globe, built on a much much bigger scale than any of the Manifestos you could have visited. We are just getting started, and we love to combine our backgrounds and implement that experience in a completely different industry.
What was the impact of the market on the direct area of Florenc and Smichov, what was the initial feedback of the locals?
Each of those places is different and each of our projects was unique and specific to that concrete place. Yet, there is at least one impact you could observe everywhere. Our interventions helped the safety of those places, something that seemed unsolvable until we stepped in with our concepts.
All of the positive feedback we received from our customers who shared thousands of reviews until today has been energizing and inspiring and helps us improve every day and come up with new ideas.
What was the general response of the visitors to the fact that the place is completely cashless?
Some people expected a dramatic resistance but the opposite was true, it was very smooth. Our belief has been that cash is dirty and it has no place in restaurants. In a cashless environment, restaurant staff are able to focus on offering delicious food and great customer service without concerns about food safety.
Throughout the pandemic, consumers have expressed appreciation that they do not need to touch cash during transactions and that the transactions are faster. Other than that, cashless operations are transparent and much easier to manage for the owners, and finally, consider safety again.
None of the restaurant staff members have to carry cash after closing their bistro in the night. In fact, over 97% of guests that we’ve surveyed like the cashless environment, even before the pandemic and most of the remaining voices were neutral.
How many stands are in each food hub?
Usually, 15 to 28 depending on the size of the area, on the seating capacity and the demographics in the nearby vicinity – the most important is the 10-minute perimeter. The exact number comes down to our deep understanding and analysis of data, and sometimes to the spatial possibilities of a location. It’s good to mention that some bistros can double as virtual kitchens and operate additional brands from one space, available to order online.
What is the most popular cuisine stand among the visitors?
Among our top sellers, there are meatless meals: Fries and churros! If we leave out pivo, of course. With that said, the guests of Manifesto love to find an unmatched variety in the market, from burgers, tacos, American barbeque, Indian butter chicken, seafood, and poke bowls and anything their heart desires. And they all walked away with satisfaction with delicious fries with cheddar cheese or churros with cinnamon sugar and caramel dips.
We would like to learn more about the Manifesto On Wheels initiative.
“We transform ordinary places into memorable experiences” is our motto, and Manifesto On Wheels started from the same idea. We decided to deliver a classic seasonal drink, svařák (hot mulled wine), deep in the early days of the pandemic, in November 2020, to people’s doorstep.
We did this because we felt that people confined to their homes might dearly miss that annual experience of going out with their friends and families for a cup of svařák. We thought, if people cannot enjoy their cup of svařák at Manifesto, what about helping them experience it at home and still feel the vibes of the festive season? We tried to bottle the product, hired a talented illustrator to design cheerful labels, we drove to all the
possible addresses around Prague – and some colleagues were honestly surprised what is still considered as Prague.
The aftermath was a somewhat surprising success for us. That led us to launch a collection of classic and original artisanal ready-to-drink cocktails. We rolled out products like the “Quarantini” or “Staycation” series with “Sip of” several exotic places people could not travel to.
Initially, we thought we’d bring the bar to people’s homes in our own cocktail truck – hence the name “Manifesto on Wheels” – but later transformed the idea into delivery of great drinks. People really love these drinks, even outside of lockdowns, so we’ll keep expanding these collections.
How does one corporate event look like, what should a company organizing their team building know about?
You are right, Manifesto is seen as a place for bigger events and parties and we receive reservations for both – company outings but also family gatherings. Those events can perfectly co-exist with our normal operations and vibes, we are able to reserve areas such as the terrace or the cultural zone, and even the whole market for very specific requests, to create a memorable experience.
Besides that, we host thought-leadership events, such as the Sustainability Festival or the 2020 edition of Innovators, a Czech award for the most innovative and inspiring companies. The only advice is to get in touch with us early enough, ideally, a month ahead or more, depending on how ambitious and complex the event is.
We would like to learn more about the newly opening food hub in Berlin.
Manifesto Berlin will open in the second half of this year at Potsdamer Platz. We could not have dreamt of a better location to begin our international market expansion. It’s a crossroads of culture, shopping, office hubs, and entertainment brands and it’s located right at one of the busiest public transit hubs with daily traffic of 110k people.
It will be our largest space to date, and it will be continental Europe’s largest food hall. We’ll continue the cashless solution because Berliners, like most of our guests in Prague, will love using digital and contactless payments at Manifesto. We are deeply into the curatorial process of selecting from an awesome lineup of dozens of interested, innovative restaurants. Stay tuned, we will be announcing the first committed restaurants in the coming weeks! We are also really excited to expand our newly launched brand, SOOT Bar, into Germany.
Do you have future plans to expand the business and idea of the Manifesto Market all over Europe, outside of the EU-zone perhaps?
e are working on opening several locations in Germany over the next 18-24 months. Martin Barry, Mandy Kwan, Petr Nemec and the expansion team have been pursuing new sites in major cities around Europe and we are exploring possible locations in the US, the home country of the Founder.