Saturday, October 08, 2016

The Chain Tsunami

Staffing in Harrogate at the moment has become a real problem. As the new Everyman redevelopment has opened with its slew of chain restaurants, and the major redevelopments down Parliament Street begin to open in stages it has become apparent that we have too many food and drink outlets seeking staff from the same pool of people.

We've had tremendous difficulty in recruiting at the moment, and from speaking to other managers and business owners in town, I know of at least two kitchens which are closed at the moment as they have had their chef's poached by one of the chains.

Two well known Harrogate restaurants have closed this year with Dave Burns, the owner of Bed, placing the blame squarely on the competition provided by the new openings. Tom Van Zeller closed his eponymous restaurant earlier in the year also blaming increased competition.

I'm not against increased competition, but it does sadden me that people get excited over the opening of a fairly dull mass market brand like 5 Guys with its wildly overpriced burger offerings, but won't go out and support independant business where the profits are more likely to be farmed back into the community. I know that I work for a large chain so I'm sort of skating on thin ice here, but in my defence on the catering side we're a chain of 26 catering outlets, all of which are situated within parent stores.

If you do fancy popping out for a good drinking / dining experience in a non-chain setting, here's a few suggestions...

Sweet Basil Valley, York and Yeadon, fantastic Thai and Chinese food, do try the Spicy Squid.

No.11 Somerset House, Harrogate, partner to the Black Hat in Ilkley, this property has seen a string of openings and closures in the last 3 years, but Somerset House look lovely and I do hope it succeeds. Good selection of ales, wines and gin, and a nice looking menu of updated British classics.

The Little Ale House, Harrogate, a charming micrpub.

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