Local Business Focus: Emma Blackman
August 26, 2021
If you’ve ever worked on Brent Terrace Industrial Estate, you’ll know Emma Blackman.
If you’ve worked on Brent Cross West station, you’ll know Emma Blackman.
And if you’ve ever been to a football match at Fulham FC, you’ll know Emma Blackman!
Because Emma owned and ran the food van Emma’s Hot And Cold Snacks on Brent Terrace Industrial Estate for 17 years; she has run the staff canteen at our new station for the last 10 months; and she spends her weekends selling her delicious food outside her favourite football club’s ground before going to matches too.
She said: “I love it. It’s the friendliest job in the world. On the industrial estate I knew everyone, and everyone was lovely. When they started building the new station everyone was friendly there as well, and they would come to me too. Eventually they invited me to run their canteen.
“I worked all the way through COVID, and I only have one week off a year. The people I serve aren’t just customers, they’re my friends.”
Emma grew up in South Ealing, and her childhood ambition was to be a police officer. However, she had her children at a young age, and only discovered her passion for running her own business when she took over the van from her then-husband.
And over the years she says she has discovered the truth of her grandmother’s old adage: “If you love your job you’ll never do a day’s work in your life.”
Emma added: “You have to be a people person in a job like this. You have to be a good listener. And you have to be prepared to work hard.
“I used to just call myself a burger lady, but I’d get told ‘No, you’re a businesswoman.’ That meant a lot to me.”
Although Emma admits to having been “very shy” when she started running her van, she says the sociable nature of the job and the close rapport she built up with customers helped her to blossom. And that was never more evident than when she realised that her favourite football club did not have a burger van outside their stadium at Craven Cottage.
She said: “One day my stepdad pointed out that there wasn’t one, and that was it. Every month, for five years, I’d phone up and ask if I could have a pitch. Eventually they called me up and said they’d give me one just so I’d stop asking!
“Now I’m in my 18th season there. I’ll work for two hours, then go and watch the match, then come out and cook some more for fans as they leave.”
Emma’s involvement with Brent Cross Cricklewood is part of our wider commitment throughout the regeneration programme to engage with local people and businesses. This includes using local suppliers and employing firms like Emma.
We also have a goal that at least 20% of the people working at the sites to build Brent Cross Town and Brent Cross West are residents of Barnet or the neighbouring boroughs of Brent and Camden.
Emma is just one of the local businesses we are working with across the programme, read about our work with local cleaning firm, Tarem Services, who met our teams at one of our Meet the Buyer events.
If you want to nominate a local firm which deserves a mention, or if you run a local independent business and want to tell your story, get in touch by emailing TransformingBX@barnet.gov.uk
And you can read about other businesses across the borough here.