I write this blog in a week where we have lost two indie businesses amongst the Harrogate hospitality community, they are very different and likely closed for very different reasons. I’ve started writing it 3 or 4 times over the last few years but this time I really felt like something needed to be said.
As a community we’re all talking about the situation but many of us don’t understand what is happening, why it’s happening or what we can do about it. This issue is a big tanker that isn’t going to change course overnight – it needs all hands to help and I no-one is taking any responsibility for moving us in a different direction.
The debate needs to be widened and this is my attempt to do my bit of that. I’m going to lay out my thoughts, bust a few myths, make some suggestions in terms of action we can take and get the conversation started about indies in Harrogate.
Why am I qualified to talk about this?
I’m not really but I’m someone who lives in town and owns two indies in Harrogate.
Baltzersen’s started blogging about indies in Harrogate back in 2014 and created the #ThinkIndie hashtag that you may have seen on Twitter. We consider ourselves to be a leader in the indie community and support other indie businesses as much as we can.
I am on the management group at the Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce which does give me access to a little extra information here and there and also means I interact with the wider business community.
I guess I’m what there is right now.
I’ll start briefly with what is happening…..(that’s the only bit of this blog that could be described as brief, might be best to make yourself a brew and settle in for a long one)
What’s Going on?
Goose was a relatively new business located on the Hornbeam Park development. It had a beautifully fitted out space offering cafe facilities and a space for kids to play with a collection of well maintained toys or for an optional charge to be supervised doing creative play in the craft area. It was light and airy, immaculately clean and the food and drinks were very good and reasonably priced for the quality. It closed it’s doors this week without a whole lot of information in terms of the reasons why but it feels like a shame, especially for that side of town.
Damn Yankee was the exact opposite of Goose in that it was an established business that had been trading for 40 years. I have not been on the planet that long and in Harrogate even less time but I gather it was at the forefront of bringing American dining to Harrogate in the early days and was part of the fabric of the town. The owners decided to close this week citing a number of reasons including the level of competition in town.
These closures are part of a trend of indies in Harrogate’s hospitality sector closing down throughout the town including; Yorkshire Meatball Company, Van Zeller’s, Salsa Posada, BED, Andy Annat’s Crackerjack BBQ, Bib and Tucker, Jakes and Runamocha.
Admittedly there do seem to be a fairly steady stream of replacements and businesses willing to give things a try as we’ve had the opening of Fisk, Mykonos, Papas, Souvlaki, Starling, Tah Chang and Buon Gusto to replace some of these operators.
Whilst the indies in Harrogate have been struggling, changing hands and closing there has been a massive influx of chain restaurants/bars to the town including; Jamie Oliver, Byron, Yo Sushi, Cote, Cau, Ask Italian, Gino’s, Nando’s, Five Guys, Revolution De Cuba, All Bar One, The Pit, The Foundry and soon ‘The Ivy Brasserie’.
Once we’ve gotten over the initial pain of the loss of the latest indie to shut it’s doors it’s usually time to get angry and start apportioning some blame.
Let’s explore some of the potential factors/culprits in the closure of these businesses.
Click here: Indies in Harrogate Pt. 2: Blame the Council