The diversity of London’s restaurants and bars makes it one of the world’s greatest cities for eating and drinking out – but it is the growth in food-led establishments, at the expense of drinking venues, that is changing the shape of the market and leading the expansion into new areas.
Latest figures from MarketGrowthMonitor, the quarterly measure of GB pub, bar and restaurant openings and closures produced by AlixPartners and CGA Peach, show just how unique a market, and different from the rest of Britain, London has become.
In its centre, 58% of licensed premises now are food-led – up from 53% in 2011. Many drink-focused pubs and bars still do excellent trade, not least in the City, with those specialising in cocktails or craft beer particularly strong. But by and large, drink-led sites that have closed in the last few years have tended to be replaced by food-led pubs or restaurants rather than new drinkers’ venues, the research shows.
This 58% proportion of food-led premises contrasts sharply with other big city centres beyond the M25, where only 45% of venues are food-led. Here, there are just as many venues (45%) that are drink-led, many of them circuit bars and locals. It is a reminder that people’s frequency of eating out is far higher in London than anywhere else in the country – though as the shows, other big city centres are starting to catch up.
It is no surprise to find that London’s restaurants, bars and pubs are most heavily concentrated in the West End. The W1 postcode alone has 1,201 licensed premises, and WC2 another 505. The City is another hotbed, with 321 and 285 premises in E1 and EC1 respectively. EC postcodes account for four of the 13 highest concentrations of premises, and the Canary Wharf area of E14 is not far behind.
In these and nearly all other central London postcodes, the number of premises has increased substantially over the last five years. W1 has 70 more sites than it did in 2011, for instance, and SE1 has 59 more.
“Growth has been most spectacular in E1, a district that as well as City redoubts like Aldgate and Bishopsgate also includes Shoreditch, where so many hip new restaurant and bar concepts have emerged lately. Again, it is restaurant openings -from both casual dining chains and independents – that have fuelled the boom. That E1 postcode now has 31% more food-led premises than it did five years ago, and W2 has 10% more,” said CGA Peach director Jamie Campbell.
The list of new growth postcodes for restaurants and bars is centred around the north and east of the capital, where spots like Stoke Newington and Shoreditch have been setting the fashion for eating and drinking out., though the south west also has its star areas.