The independent restaurant and bar scene in city centres such as Manchester and Leeds is booming. In Leeds Mill Hill’s Bundobust and Great George Street Souvlaki Restaurant are part of a growing trend of independent local businesses thriving in the city, while independents Friends of ham, Wax Bar and the Rum Shack are taking the old-guard of national operators to task. I have advised many clients in the early stages of bar ventures; an exciting time for those involved and hopefully the start of a successful and enjoyable business. However it is important to be aware of the steps to be taken and the pitfalls to avoid prior to opening the doors of your new restaurant or bar to customers.
Once you have identified suitable premises (and assuming that you wish to sell alcohol) you will need to address the unavoidable issue of licensing. If the premises is not currently licensed an application for a new premises licence should be made. Key information such as your location, hours of opening, type of venue and style of operation will determine how contentious your application will be. Applications for licences for cafes and restaurants typically attract less opposition than nightclubs, however most of Leeds and Manchester city centre districts are subject to a ‘Cumulative Impact Policy’ designed to limit the impact of licensed premises on the city centre. It is important when you are working towards a specific opening date to plan and allow sufficient time to deal with issues such as licensing, staffing and renovation. Be realistic.
While the application processes and premises preparation may seem daunting at first, with the correct approach and good advice they are by no means insurmountable. Leeds and Manchester independent restaurants and bars are a visible testament to this and show every sign of thriving for years to come.