If you’ve been to the south entrance of Priory Meadow in recent months, you will probably have seen Southside Wrappers already. Their black and white trailer is a regular fixture, backed onto the town hall opposite that entrance. The brainchild of Ian and Karey Gillam, this little trailer offers a wide variety of wraps and quesadillas to the Hastings populace.
Ian and Karey Gillam in their Trailer
A year ago you would not have expected either of them to plan to start a food business. Back then Ian was an advertising executive and Karey was a teaching assistant. Neither of them were happy with their jobs at the time. Ian’s company had been subject to repeated cutbacks, with the threat of redundancy constantly hanging over him. Meanwhile Karey had become disillusioned, the job she once enjoyed having become overwhelmed by ever increasing demands and unrealistic targets. With their kids having grown-up and no mortgage to pay, they both decided the time was right. While they had always wanted to run a restaurant, a small trailer seemed a more sensible start and so Southside Wrappers was born.
They first set up as part of the town centre market in October 2018, moving to their current location in January. Originally they offered cylindrical wraps, but the package-shaped quesadillas proved a more popular choice. They have always tried to to cater to a wide range of customers by offering a variety of fillings. They estimate about 20% of their customers are vegan, 20% are vegetarian and the remainder are meat-eaters. Though the wraps themselves insulate the grills from the fillings, they still maintain one of their grills as solely for vegan and non-allergenic wraps. The wraps come with spoof song title names indicating their ingredients, including “Dead Ringer for Ham” and the reduced calorie offering “I Will Weight for You”. Many of these wraps are flavoured with sauces from Dom’s Food Mission, a local foodbank charity. Karey volunteered for them in mid-2018 and the trailer also sells the sauces with profits going back to the charity.
Ian originally trained as a chef, though he found that flour and his asthma did not mix well. His early career involved kitchen work, but he drifted into front of house work, leading to his ongoing work in sales. This early training is now being put to good use as he mans the grills. Karey has also brought in her own expertise from her past training as a window dresser. She has used these skills, and a certain flair for art, to create the distinctive look of the business. This includes their own version of the logo for Gorm’s, a pizza restaurant they saw on a trip to Copenhagen. She also keeps Ian organised by taking orders and making sure everyone gets the right wrap. Repeat customers can also get stamps on a loyalty card, with a full card of 6 stamps getting you a free wrap. The fact that I am well on my way to completing a second card should tell you my opinion of the food.
They have already taken the trailer out to local events, including the recent Street Food Festival held on the Stade. They are also booked to appear at the Midsummer Food Festival and the Seafood and Wine Festival later this year. Whilst it might be a while down the road yet, they hope to set up a small cafe style place at some point in the future. Until that happens, you can find their black and white trailer opposite the main exit from Priory Meadow from 9:30am-6.00pm, Tuesday to Saturday.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. The future of our volunteer led, non-profit publication would be far more secure with the aid of a small donation. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.