Harrogate’s residents don’t need to look far if they want something to eat. Figures show that hungry residents have a choice of more than 130 places to eat out.
Figures from Harrogate Borough Council’s (HBC) food licencing department show that there are 134 food businesses in Harrogate registered with them and this number looks to be increasing.
The number of planning applications to convert buildings to a cafe, restaurant or drinking establishment has more than doubled.
In the year 2013/14 HBC’s planning department received 12 change of use applications compared to five in 2012/13 and three in 2011/12.
High profile chain restaurants including Carluccio’s and Jamie’s Italian have opened in Harrogate in the last year, and regional brands like The Pit and Tap pubs have opened in town.
John Gyngell, director of Leeds based North Bar Group has been looking to open a venue in Harrogate for some time.
He said: “It is a thriving place and we want to be there. The timing feels right, it feels like the economy is getting better. Harrogate is thriving, you just have to walk through the town centre to know that.”
Despite looking at opening a bar in Harrogate for a few years, John said he has not yet found the right location.
“One venue we had our eye on fell through recently, we want to get the venue right so will keep looking. Expanding north from Leeds seems a logical step, there are a lot of other brands looking at it too!”
Leeds based Arc Inspirations, who own several bars in Leeds city centre and suburbs opened The Pit on the Ginnel in June.
Managing director Martin Wolstencroft said the company recognised the growth in Harrogate’s food and drink industry.
He said: “We are really proud to have opened our newest Pit venture in Harrogate. Through our other location, Banyan on John Street, we recognised that the town is a growing destination for food lovers, appealing to its residents, business community, as well as visitors, who expect a diverse choice for eating and drinking.”
Big name brands, Jamie’s Italian and Carluccio’s have added to the casual dining scene in Harrogate.
Carluccio’s was so eager to open in Harrogate bosses took the council to a planning appeal after its application was refused.
Maurizio Luci, manager at Jamie’s Italian Parliament Street which opened last month said: “We had been looking to open in Harrogate for a while, then this opportunity came along. We have done things differently here, it is more Harrogate. We have less covers than in other restaurants. In Harrogate people tend to come in, take their time, relax, have a drink - compared to our Leeds branch its very different.”
Another restaurant hoping to capitalise on the rise of casual dining is the Yorkshire Meatball Company which opened on Station Bridge in February.
Managing director David Atkinson said: “Harrogate must be more densely populated with cafes and restaurants than lots of other places. It is good that people have a choice, casual dining is becoming more popular in the UK, people are eating out more so want more choice.”
There is set to be yet more choice of places to eat out to come in the near future with Harrogate House on Parliament Street and the planned Beales re-development both hoping to add to the eating out market.
Mystery still surrounds the three restaurant units on Parliament Street which have been empty since redevelopment earlier this year. A spokesperson for Lateral Property Group said that tenants had been secured and are ‘exciting brands which are new to Harrogate’ though refused to name the companies.
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