Why You Should be Looking North of London to Open Your Restaurant Business

When you’re starting a business, it can be tempting to ‘go with what you know’ and stick to your home city, but if that home city happens to be London, where rental space is astronomical and the vast majority of businesses fail within the first year, you might want to cast your net a little further.

In a recent report, Manchester has been placed as the fastest growing city in the UK, with Leeds, Birmingham and Liverpool following closely behind and London trailing in 20th place. So, is it time for young fledgling businesses to look beyond the bright and intimidating lights of the Capital and seek their fortunes in the Midlands and further north?


A period of rapid regeneration has seen not only a population boom in Midlands and Northern cities since the turn of the century, but jobs growth too. Indeed, most of the country’s major regional cities have seen massive growth in recent years and that can be attributed at least in part to the desire for businesses to be based in city centres.

London doesn’t really have a traditional city centre and the rental rates in popular areas are so severe that they will put off young businesses. In city centres such as Birmingham or Manchester, however, the ink is still wet on some serious regeneration work. Even 20 years ago, these city centres were seen as run-down, but urban rejuvenation work has led to them becoming not only more attractive locations for residents but for businesses too.

Fine Dining

The restaurant business is notoriously unstable, but in recent years there has been a definite resurgence in cities such as Manchester and Birmingham. In the second city, for example, the now iconic “Digbeth Dining Club” has transformed a former car park into a hipster dining Mecca or boutique street food and its success has revitalised the entire surrounding area. The 5 year start-up survival rate in the city is 39%.

In Manchester, meanwhile, the restaurant scene has been booming for years now, with vegans in particular latching onto the city’s scene with Stockport vegan establishment “The Allotment” earning praise and awards even from mainstream dining bodies. The 5 year start-up survival rate in the city is also around 39%.

There has been a great northern boom in restaurant trade in general, with the Leeds Indie Food Festival leading to a major increase in affordable and unique restaurants in the city and beyond in nearby Sheffield. In short – if you’re looking to get into the restaurant business, looking to more Northern cities where recent growth has driven the demand for businesses and startups and the growing population means there to ample staff to hire.

Lower startup costs also mean you’ll have more to spend on decent catering equipment, advertising and decoration, and the greater success rates mean you’ll hopefully be around for longer than the 12 months you’d probably last on the streets of London.