Town centre officials have vowed to continue supporting a historic market despite the recent closure of two street food traders. 

A significant refurbishment programme at Darlington Market has created space for new bar, food and entertainment areas as the site’s owners look to create a new nightlife hotspot in the town. 

But the changes have proved controversial, with several historic businesses including butchers and cafes leaving the facility since the first changes were made in 2021. 

A further two street food traders - KABAO and Fourteen Street Kitchen - have now closed and left the market after less than a year. 

The owners of KABAO, serving Asian fusion dishes, are believed to have found work elsewhere. Fourteen Street Kitchen could not be contacted. 

Darlington and Stockton Times: Fourteen Street kitchen sold Mexican-Californian street food in the indoor marketFourteen Street kitchen sold Mexican-Californian street food in the indoor market (Image: The Northern Echo)

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The closures come as Darlington Council recently pledged to invest £800,000 in the market for further redevelopment. Council and market officials hope to entice a younger demographic to Darlington Market by replacing the current 10 empty units with new contemporary outlets designed to attract a new generation of businesses.

A Darlington Council spokeswoman said: “Whilst it’s disappointing to lose any traders, we are confident that the vacant stalls will be taken up by new, exciting traders. This ensures the market continues to refresh its offer.

“It is important to note that the forthcoming investment will be targeted at the traditional trading section of the market which will attract new traders to improve on the current offer that exists within this area.”

Darlington and Stockton Times: Husband and wife Jonathan and Alicia Horsley (right) ran the Asian street food business in Darlington Market Husband and wife Jonathan and Alicia Horsley (right) ran the Asian street food business in Darlington Market (Image: The Northern Echo)

The refurbishment of the market commenced in 2021 and includes six street food stalls, new toilets, enhanced entrance areas and a new bar facility. A new prohibition-themed bar is currently being built in the basement.

Officials say changes in living and working behaviour have affected footfall but are confident its plan will make it fit for the future.

A spokesman for Market Asset Management (MAM), which owns the market, said: "We already have traders interested in occupying the units and hope to announce them in due course once legal formalities around the leases of the two departing traders are tied up.   

“We are committed to offer flexible, modern leases to support small and start-up businesses and, just like changing high streets, the nature of markets and street food is that there is a varying mix of traders. 

“However, whenever anyone departs we are inundated with interest from other parties wishing to join our family of fantastic independent traders. It is an exciting time for the market and its major redevelopment continues to take shape allowing the venue to grow as a food, retail, and live entertainment destination.

“This includes The Vault, a basement prohibition-themed bar, a revamped shop front fascia and entrances, a new shop floor café, new public and trader toilets on the ground floor and new toilets to the basement.

“The additional £800,000 Indigenous Growth Fund funding will only enhance our unflinching commitment that Darlington Market is a place where people love to shop, eat and drink and enjoy entertainment.”