It’s not all bad news for city’s food and drink outlets - Kevin Buckle

Avalanche Records in EdinburghAvalanche Records in Edinburgh
Avalanche Records in Edinburgh
A day rarely seems to go by these days without news of a beloved eatery closing and even though independent chains are expanding small coffee shops are closing too.

It isn’t all bad news for anybody serving food and drink as the St James Quarter is still reporting great figures though it is not the same story for their retailers. The closures are spread around Edinburgh so it isn’t an area issue but more a symptom of the fact that in particular with restaurants people just no longer see them as the place to go to celebrate a big occasion.

Taxi drivers will tell you the same story that they no longer get fares in the numbers they used to during the week for people celebrating birthdays.

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Certainly the market is shrinking more noticeably among locals rather than visitors for the simple reason that while there now seems to be reduced interest among those visiting the city to search out a nice restaurant the idea of going out to celebrate with a nice meal has crashed among local residents.

Worryingly many of the hotels recently opened and due to be built have factored in a successful restaurant into their figures and I’ve lost count of the number claiming a view of the castle.

There was an interesting contrast recently with rugby visitors at Waverley Market when the visit of the French led to a good amount of shopping to add to their visit to the newly branded Food Station, while the English rugby fans again were keen to be fed and watered but were clearly not adding a shopping trip to their itinerary.

It reminded me of the time a young guy arrived at Avalanche’s shop door in the Grassmarket five minutes before closing and asked if there was any chance I could stay open a little longer.

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He told me he worked for a finance firm in Paris who had hired a private jet to come to the rugby. Amazingly he wasn’t a rugby fan at all and had simply come on the jaunt so he could come to the shop. Given his story I couldn’t refuse and to be fair he made it well worth me staying open an extra 40 minutes.

While it is hard to think there will be a resurgence in people going to restaurants any time soon Edinburgh does appear to have fully recovered from the pandemic and may start to see more visitors than ever and one thing for sure is that they will need to eat so all is not lost for the right food outlets.

Quite who will be successful is not clear though it does look like Edinburgh city centre definitely has enough coffee shops especially with the addition of Black Sheep and Starbucks to Princes Street.

Personally I think there is room for more chip shops and I would love one to open in the Waverley Market but I’m told that the extraction fans needed would be an issue for the building.

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I am amazed at how popular the bubble tea stand is in the centre and it is definitely one for youngsters and at least makes a change from all the coffee shops though I suspect it will be some time before we see one on Princes Street.