Research released ahead of Small Business Saturday found the most searched-for start-ups in Leeds are sandwich shops, cafe bars, coffee shops and non-franchise fast food companies. Seven out of the top 10 searches were in the food and drink sector.
Data from BusinessesForSale.com also noted a resurgence in the popularity of independent retail, with the sector re-entering the top 10 most searched for opportunities.
Yorkshire is increasingly becoming known for its independent traders, with the success of Leeds’ Trinity Kitchen, the launch of award-winning restaurants Bundobust and Fu-Schnikens.
In Malton, the rise of independent producers has led the town to position itself as Yorkshire’s Food Capital.
The popularity of food and drink in Leeds reflects wider trends nationally, BusinessesForSale.com marketing director Rufus Bazley said.
He told The Yorkshire Post: “The food sector is always popular.
“There’s two reasons for that: there’s almost a romantic notion about owning a restaurant, lots of people of all ages and background dream of having a little family-run restaurant.
“There’s also the fact that if you pick the right type of restaurant, it’s almost recession-proof.”
While recent years showed a slowdown in expensive, chain-run eateries, smaller food businesses found it easier to keep their heads above water, he said.
“From an investment point of view, restaurants are at a relatively low level, compared to something like a manufacturing company that can run to millions of pounds,” Mr Bazley added.
Recent success stories for the region include Indian street food restaurant Bundobust, which opened in Leeds in July 2014. The venture combined craft beer knowledge from Bradford’s The Sparrow Bier Cafe and food expertise from Drighlington’s award-winning Prashad.
Independent coffee shop Laynes Espresso has grown from its 2011 roots near Leeds Station to become a fixture at the city’s Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen, which also hosts street food trader Fu-Schnikens.
Fu-Schnikens launched in early 2014 and was named Best of the Best at the British Street Food awards in September. The business has toured the UK since its launch and expanded on its initial menu of glazed pork belly Gua Bao, or Taiwanese buns.
Malton’s Malton Food Lovers Festival and monthly food markets, backed by Malton Community Interest Company, have become central to the town’s draw.
Yorkshire has also seen independent retail return to popularity, with the sector ranking as the ninth most popular search for would-be business owners.
People are increasingly look to back local ventures, Mr Blazley said.
“There are definitely a lot of people that want to support their local community,” Mr Bazley said. “I think it’s good for business and good for England in general.”