Sunderland has a taste for dining out, according to new research.
A study released today lists the city in a top 10 of “most restauranty cities”, and says the north’s burgeoning dining scene is closing the gap with London’s offering.
The city comes tenth in the research by Holden Media which gave rankings according to the greatest density of restaurants per head of population.
Sunderland is listed as having 3,418 residents per restaurant, with Newcastle taking the top spot with one restaurant for every 1,558 residents, narrowly pushing Manchester, with 1,576 residents per restaurant, into second place.
Ian Wong opened Asiana, a fusion of Chinese, Thai, Japanese and Indonesian cuisine, in Echo 24, West Wear Street, seven years ago.
He said: “There are definitely more restaurants opening up with a greater variety too. You have places like Papadoms, Efes Turkish restaurant and Egyptian with Arabesque. It’s great that there’s more and more vibrancy and diversity. It’s great that diners have choice and the competition amongst restaurants breeds quality.
“When we opened seven years ago the city was so heavily Italian when it comes to restaurants, with a couple of Indian restaurants, and one Chinese sit down restaurant. We opened and it brought something different.”
A surge in new Northern openings has seen the numbers of “residents per restaurant” in the region fall 18% between 2011 and 2015, compared to a decrease of only 13% in London.
Industry experts suggest the notable swing towards the North is driven by factors such as more affordable set up costs, an increasingly sophisticated audience and a trend towards cultural tourism in the North’s post-industrial cities.
Thom Hetherington, CEO of Holden Media, organisers of Northern Restaurant & Bar (NRB), one of the UK’s largest hospitality trade shows, said: “London is a global gastronomic city, but clearly the North of England is catching up at a rate of knots, not least because it is possible for cash-strapped but talented chefs to set up their own ventures and cook their hearts out for an appreciative audience. This research explains exactly why our visitor numbers at the Northern Restaurant & Bar show are booming.”
Northern Restaurant & Bar, returns to Manchester Central next week (March 15-16) for its 16th year.
North’s Top Ten Residents Per Restaurant
1 Newcastle upon Tyne 1,558
2 Manchester 1,576
3 York 1,585
4 Liverpool 1,996
5 Chester 2,595
6 Leeds 2,598
7 Carlisle 2,701
8 Sheffield 2,750
9 Preston 2,809
10 Sunderland 3,418