Northern cities lead independent restaurant boom

Independent restaurants boom in Northern cities

Northern cities are seeing a boom in independent restaurant openings with growth rates outstripping traditional hotspots such as London and Edinburgh, a new study shows.

Hospitality trade show Northern Restaurant & Bar (NRB) commissioned research tracking the number of restaurant operators with less than three sites opening in the UK’s major city centres over the last three years.

Leeds and Newcastle had the fastest growing independent restaurant scene, with a 12.8% rise in new openings since 2014.

In contrast London has seen just a 7.4% increase in the number of independent restaurants, falling behind cities such as Nottingham (12.5%), Cardiff (11.6%), Birmingham (8.7%) and Glasgow (8.2%).

Regional opportunities

Operators cited cheaper costs and availability of sites as making it easier to open outside the capital.

“I couldn’t have opened restaurants in London as I have in the North of England,” says Gary Usher, chef-patron of four restaurants, including Sticky Walnut, in the North West. “The economics and audiences are different, and that gave me the opportunity.”

The relatively mature restaurant scenes in Edinburgh and Manchester offered less opportunity for independents, with just 1.6% and 3.1% growth respectively. However, both cities had the largest number of independent restaurants outside the capital.

“London still stands apart in terms of the scale and depth of its restaurant scene, but escalating costs mean the regions and the North in particular now offer genuine opportunity for ambitious operators,” says Thom Hetherington, CEO of NRB.

This year’s NRB returns to Manchester Central on 21-22 March. For more information click here.

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