Olives and cheese win in city centre food fight

Commercial Road in Portsmouth
Commercial Road in Portsmouth
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Credit: Wiki Commons (labelled for reuse)

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WHAT do hungry people in Portsmouth want to eat while doing their shopping?

That was the burning question the city council’s licensing sub-committee had to wrestle with.

It came after they were given the chance for the first time in several years to pick a new street food vendor for the Commercial Road shopping precinct.

Councillors were presented with four mouth-watering applications:

n Cornish pasties and hog roasts

n Traditional fish and chips

n New York-style hot dogs,

n Mediterranean wraps and salads.

And there was tension in the corridors of the Portsmouth Guildhall as the nervous applicants waited to hear their decision.

Then the announcement came – Mehryar and Mandy Sharifi would be given a chance to see if their Mediterranean mix of meats, cheeses, olives and breads could win over the city’s hungry shoppers.

Conservative committee chairman Cllr Ken Ellcome said the couple and their Mediterranean Express food van would bring something new to the centre.

He said: ‘Our decision was about providing a different offer of food in Commercial Road, because there were overlaps between what 
some of the others were offering and what is already provided in places like Greggs.

‘We also hoped it would bring something a bit more upmarket to the area in terms of food stalls.

‘But it was a fairly close call between them and fish and chips, because that also isn’t offered in that area.

‘I would like to see a better mix of food types sold down there, but the problem is these pitches don’t become available very often.’

The couple now have permission to sell their food from a trailer in the south part of Commercial Road, having also received the support of city centre manager Barry Walker.

Mrs Shafiri said she and her husband will do all the cooking themselves and had experience catering for large numbers of people.

‘We are passionate about our food, our cooking and the way our food looks,’ she said.

‘We want to bring something new to Portsmouth and sell a different kind of food from what is available in Commercial Road right now.

‘I really think once people have tried what we are offering they will want to come back.’