Norwich restaurants on the increase again
PUBLISHED: 13:29 30 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:32 30 August 2018
Graham Jones, an associate with Roche, predicts a rosy future for dining out in Norwich.
What a difference a couple years make in the restaurant sector.
In 2015-16 the market was still flourishing, with hot spots like Norwich attracting unprecedented demand from national chains. Fast-forward a couple of years and the picture became markedly different.
While Norwich, being a leading regional centre, remained broadly popular, the heat in the restaurant market cooled significantly and the sector underwent a significant correction.
The national restaurant chains that led the charge for “representation at all costs” have suffered from unsustainable overheads in an overly-competitive market, resulting in CVAs for established names like Prezzo, Jamie’s Italian, Carluccio’s and Byron, to name but a few.
However, is the tide beginning to turn again?
While the volume of requirements coming through from the national and regional chains is still some way below the highs of a few years ago, there are signs of improvement.
Additionally, and importantly, some of the independent restaurateurs are making moves to build on their success either by grasping the opportunity to take space vacated by others – space which was perhaps previously beyond their reach – or by extending or refreshing their existing offering.
Recent activity has included national café-bar business Loungers kicking on with their acquisitions by announcing plans to open one of their Cosy Club concept restaurants in the former NatWest bank premises on London Street, Norwich, and upmarket brasserie chain The Ivy opening their latest restaurant, also on London Street in Norwich – in the former Gap store.
Add to this Roger Hickman extending his fine dining restaurant offering by adding a private dining experience and the former Prezzo on Thorpe Road in Norwich having gone under offer to an independent restaurant operator, there appears to be some validation for cautious optimism.
Generally, the market may have shrunk and there will inevitably be a mixture of winners and losers, so only time will tell how quickly the market will positively evolve.
What is clear is that the recent sector re-basing is providing some interesting opportunities in Norwich which are often being taken up. Add to this Castle Mall’s new and exciting Timberhill Terrace and St Anne’s Quarter coming forward; it looks good for the city to further strengthen its national position.