Shipping container village that’s ‘changing the face of Lodge Lane’

Inside a shipping container on Lodge Lane Adam Suero is cooking up birria tacos which are taking TikTok by storm.

It’s an idea that’s been in the pipeline for many years, so when he heard about the shipping containers opening in the area he soon quit his job and signed up to the scheme.

The 30-year-old is one of 14 local businesses to have opened in the 150 square feet containers since July, as part of a new development which aims to champion local entrepreneurs and start-ups.

The words “we are a strong resilient community” are printed on the side of the shipping containers and show what the scheme, which is the first of its kind in the city, is all about.

To find out more about how the new businesses are changing the face of Lodge Lane, we went to meet the people behind them.

Adam opened Go Taco four months ago on Lodge Lane after quitting his job at Jaguar Land Rover.

Inspired by his travels round America and a friend he made who was originally from Mexico, Adam came up with a menu focused around a signature dish – birria tacos.

Birria tacos are different from normal tacos in that the meat is slow cooked in a savoury Mexican stew and a pot of the broth is served on the side.

Adam told the ECHO: “I was one of the first people to hear about [the scheme] and got my name on it straight away.

“It’s a nice vibe with the other shops, it draws people in. You see people drive past and everyone’s looking. ”

Since creating an account on TikTok Adam said his tacos have really taken off and he has received rave reviews from customers.

He admits the shipping containers are a small space to work in, especially when there’s three staff working at once, but they manage to work around each other.

The 30-year-old is already thinking ahead to the future and aims to open three restaurants in Liverpool and 150 across the country.

Adam added: “We’ve done really well, we get people coming from all over the country.

“Fifty per cent of my business comes from social media. The food brings everyone back but it’s social media that made every one come in the first place.”

In the shipping container next to Go Taco you’ll find IVANHOE’s, a street food vendor selling Caribbean food.

Natalie Talbot, 44, and her partner Stephen Smith, 50, came up with the idea for the business during lockdown, which is named after Natalie’s grandad from Jamaica.

Natalie said: “During lockdown we started cooking Caribbean food, we’ve always done because my grandad is from Jamaica, and if I had some left over I’d give it to friends and they enjoyed it so I thought OK let’s give it a try.”

Natalie said business has been “up and down” since they first opened in July, but they are “getting there.”

The couple sell Caribbean inspired curries, burgers and chicken wings as well as a range of different sides.

Speaking of the shipping container scheme, Natalie said: “I think it brings a lot of people into the area.”

Surrounded by an eclectic mix of items from candles to German tea and Lithuanian honey, Abdulqader Ahmed wanted to bring something different to Lodge Lane with his business Lodge Gifts and Accessories.

Abdulqader has lived in the area since 2003, when he moved to the city from Yemen – and he’s seen a lot of changes in that time.

Abdulqader Ahmed, 53, said: “I’ve been living in the area for the past 18-19 years. I’ve seen all the changes in the area and I thought what’s better than to do your business in the area you’ve been living in for this long.

“It’s like a face lift for the area. It does change the whole set up of Lodge Lane, as in a new idea coming in.”

As a member of the Mersey Yemini Community Association, Abdulqader used to attend meetings on regeneration of the Lodge Lane area between 2012 and 2016.

Looking back at that time, he said the area has experienced a lot of progress with independent businesses opening which are “changing the face” of Lodge Lane.

However, he believes more work still needs to be done to promote the area and change the misconceptions some people have of it, which are often tied to the Toxteth Riots.

Abdulqader added: “It’s a friendly community street. When the shops close in Liverpool these will stay open until late, so you can still find what you’re looking for at night.

“Diversity in L8 – that’s what made L8 and Lodge Lane. I don’t think it would have happened if there was no diversity here.”

Like Abdulqader, Majid Jabbry said it’s the close knit community on Lodge Lane that attracted him to set up his barbers there.

Majid, 46, moved to England from Iran back in 2010 before moving to the city in 2013.

He said: “I’ve lived in different cities but Liverpool is the best city; people from Liverpool are friendly.

“I like this area, there’s people of all different nationalities.

“The business takes time to be established because we just opened three months ago.”

Fozia Choodhhry had been cooking for friends and family all her life before she decided to take the plunge and launch her business Fozia’s Kashmiri Street Food on Lodge Lane.

It all started for Fozia, who grew up on Granby Street, during lockdown when she decided to launch a frozen foods business for curries which you can order online and get delivered to your door.

The 50-year-old opened her street food stand in one of the shipping containers in July, which now sees people queuing down the street.

Fozia told the ECHO: “It’s not meant to be a restaurant – it’s meant to be something different. We do pakoras in a burger and you can’t walk into a restaurant and just order a samosa or a samosa chaat.

“I was trying to do traditional Pakistani food and how we cook our curries at home. Everything is homemade. We never had shop bought samosas growing up, this is how we had it.”

In addition to her premises on Lodge Lane and her frozen foods business, Fozia also caters for events across Liverpool with up to 500 guests.

It’s easy to see why the business has become such a success, with the smell of fresh samosas drifting through the air as we speak.

Fozia said the next step for her is to start selling her frozen meals to local shops across the city.

She said: “[Lodge Lane] is changing for the better – there’s a lot more variety definitely down here.

“There’s a street food vibe going on, I think it’s going that way. A husband might go and get a taco and his wife will come in here and then they might go and get a dessert after.

“It’s a good atmosphere and everyone helps each other.”

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