There’s been a lot of talk about the strength of the independent sector in Harrogate and the latest development can be found in a part of town which was once considered the outer limits of the town centre proper. Well, not any more.
The Harrogate Advertiser’s Love Your High Street campaign, launched in the build up to Christmas looks to showcase the best of Harrogate’s businesses, this week looks at the exciting range of independent businesses on the bottom end of Kings Road and Cheltenham Mount.
Located at a busy intersection for traffic near Harrogate Convention Centre, the area has been transformed in the last two years or so by the arrival of a new breed of independent businesses, especially cafes, bars and restaurant.
It feels like local businesses such as Christies bar and Brio Italian restaurant have been there for what feels like forever.
But they’ve been joined by a mini-wave of hairdressers and new food and drink names such as No 35 coffee house, Stuzzi restaurant and Cold Bath Brewing Co bar.
Although the latter only opened in late July, this popular bar which brews its own beer on the premises with Harrogate water is fast becoming a galvanising force for the whole area.
So much so, in fact, it’s begun to spread the word about creating a new part of town.
Called Kings Quarter, when you throw in successful rock n roll art gallery RedHouse Originals and independent clothes shops such as Violet, the idea of a cool new area starts to make sense.
One of the three Harrogate men behind Cold Bath Brewing Co at 46 Kings Road, Jim Mossman, says, as a resident of Cold Bath Road, he has seen for himself how quickly an area can take off when it has the right elements in place.
Jim Mossman said: “We can see the same things happening at this end of Kings Road as happened at Cold Bath Road.
“There is a real chance to reinvent the area to the town’s benefit.
“Harrogate Civic Centre has opened, Stuzzi has raised the bar for what a cafe/restaurant can do and we are right opposite Harrogate Convention Centre.”
Should the idea of a new Kings Quarter achieve lift-off - and it’s already been received positively by neighbouring businesses - the aims are straightforward enough:
Create an identity.
Bring more footfall.
Start up music events.
Hold street markets.
Jim Mossman said: “When an area has very popular craft beer bars like us and really successful restaurants, it acts as a springboard to build up the community.
“Property prices have already started to go up. If you look at Leeds, its independent sector has made the whole city seem cooler and more attractive to a lot more people.”
Jim met his fellow owners Roger Moxham and Mick Wren when the latter owned Hoxton North cafe where Jim and Roger enjoyed a good cup of coffee.
Mick is originally from Hackney and has some experience of how important creating the right vibe is even in commercial matters.
The creation of a community spirit depends on independents working together.
Jim Mossman said: “We operate in a free-spirited industry. If we are going to change things it needs to be driven by a community of independent businesses.”
Among those supporting the three go-ahead Harrogate men’s vision of a new Kings Quarter is Sara Shaw of Violet clothing boutique at 14 Cheltenham Mount.
Sara said: “I am fully behind the idea of “Kings Quarter”. Visitors are crying out to spend their money with small independent businesses – they just need sign posting.
“There is so much to offer in our area – art galleries, retail, coffee shops, bars, beauty and wellness.
“There are some amazing venues that could host live music evenings and there could be an indie market/street food offering up the stairs between Stuzzi and Cold Bath Brewing.
“People want interesting and authentic experiences and Harrogate needs to be offering this.”
Thanks to galleries such as RedHouse Originals at 15 Cheltenham Mount, the area has a genuine artistic feel.
RedHouse owner Richard McTague said: ““I think naming the area King’s Quarter is a great idea.
“This part of town shows how independents can thrive.
“Lots of artists visit the area which adds to the buzz.
“One of our clients commented recently how you can spend a full day around here.”
Nino Cutino, owner of the dog-friendly No 35 coffee shop at 35 Cheltenham Crescent, said: “We’re located on the corner of Cheltenham Crescent, opposite the very busy Harrogate Convention Centre which creates lots of footfall for us.
“We started as a passion project and now have become one the hotspots in Harrogate for speciality coffee.
“We’ve been open just over a year now and have seen lots of independent businesses open up on our corner of Cheltenham Crescent. “
Although proud of Harrogate and its well-known flag bearers such as Harrogate Spring Water and Taylors’ Yorkshire Tea, Jim Mossman believes the town needs to think and act and market itself in keeping with the 21st century.
He said: “There’s a lot more to Harrogate than it seems. But there’s a sense of frustration that the town is not making the most of it. The Harrogate brand is still too stuffy.”
Nino Cutino, the owner of No 35 coffee house at 35 Cheltenham Crescent, is on the same wavelength.
He said: “Our corner of independents creates an exciting buzz, whilst adding great value to Kings Quarter idea.
“We would love to add value the the Kings Quarter collaborate that Cold Bath want to achieve and be involved in any events where we can add an option of serving our great coffee.
“This is a great idea and would add great value to Harrogate by giving locals different things to do.”
Last month saw Cold Bath Brewing Co bar, which collaborates with local micro-breweries Roosters, Daleside and Bad Co, appear on the international stage for the first time.
Jim travelled to China as part of a Yorkshire trade mission in Shanghai.
In theory, he was there exploring export opportunities at China’s largest trade show for the food and hospitality industry.
But he soon found himself flying the flag for all Harrogate’s great things.
Jim said: “It was crazy. We were in a building that looked like the UN.
“I was in a roomful of 150 people when someone pushed a microphone in my hand expecting me to give a presentation.
“I thought of all the ways Harrogate has led the way, either with Harrogate Spring Water or Sean Franklin, who was the godfather of craft beer and did it from Knaresborough.
“Never hide your light under a bushel.
“I realised Harrogate has to be a brand.”