They city's food scene - is Leeds finally full?

Local and national names have fallen by the wayside this year.
Local and national names have fallen by the wayside this year.
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Foodie fans in the city were left shocked (and hungry) at the news that Trinity Leeds favourites Cielo Blanco and Pintura Kitchen had closed suddenly.

Parent company Leelex had gone into administration citing a challenging market as one of the main reasons.

Preceding it Marco’s New York Italian closed back in August saying it was for “contractual” reasons and prior to that the city had seen the closure of Ricci’s tapas.

Cosmo Luxe, the around the world buffet restaurant, opened and closed before you made it back to your table and Ham and Friends (the Friends of Ham spin off) in Grand Arcade closed in March.

So, when it comes to food and drink, is Leeds finally full?

Andrew Cooper, the chief executive of Leeds BID thinks maybe so after firms saw the rise of Leeds in terms of office, retail, residential and leisure. Mr Cooper said: “There are certainly chains that have grown quite rapidly as Leeds is a burgeoning market but the key is to know the local market really well. Some well-established restaurants have fared very well in a more competitive market. Others have become complacent or may have misjudged their offer in the marketplace. With increased competition comes a need to raise standards of service and products.”

His view is echoed by Mark Goldstone, the Head of Business Representation & Policy at Leeds Chamber, who said knowing the market and responding to it is crucial.

Mr Goldstone told City Buzz: “The food and drink sector has always been highly competitive in Leeds, and those businesses which continue to perform well are those that create a brand proposition which delivers strong customer loyalty but who respond with agility to changing market trends.

“Location is also a key ingredient to success, with top performing venues generating footfall and improving their localities in turn generating further trade.

“There are pressures on consumer spend right now with economic uncertainty from national and international economic events now starting to have an impact.

“This places even more emphasis on understanding your market and getting your proposition right.”

While national firms and also those moving from London and up north may be more affected by politics and global events – the independent businesses are perhaps flying in the face of that.

Arnold’s restaurant has moved in where Marco moved out and is being managed by Steve Ridealgh, familiar with the local restaurant sector for years. Vice and Virtue’s Luke Downing already had three businesses before opening Feed in Pudsey this summer which has become one of the most talked-about venues in the city, and his fifth project is being unveiled this month.

Mr Cooper added: “Leeds has raised its game in the strong independent food scene. We support Leeds Indie Food and Eat Leeds Restaurant Week which have been incredibly successful and give businesses an opportunity to showcase their offer.

“It is a shame we have seen one or two national and local names closing down but we need to see that in the national context, not necessarily as a Leeds problem. There is a lot of support for this sector.”