By Bethany Kilgallon
A series of independent vegan restaurants in Leeds have been put up for sale. There’s speculation that it is a result of losing business to larger restaurants.
Chain restaurants including Wagamamas, Zizzis and Pizza Express have expanded their menus, introducing a variety of vegan options for their customers.
Some of the places suspected to have fallen victim are Roots and Fruits, Grove Cafe and Global Tribe Cafe, which now only operates as a coffee shop and book store.
Kay Jones, owner of Roots and Fruits, currently up for sale, believes that established chain restaurants have played a significant role in decline in business for small vegan cafes in Leeds as bigger places are cashing in on the green pound.
Sister vegan restaurants, The Wanderer and El Marchador, opened earlier this year. Ben Walker, director of the restaurants, recognises the difficulties large restaurants are causing for independent businesses, but is optimistic about Leeds vegan scene. “It is difficult with big chains offering vegan options but the strength of the independent food scene in Leeds plays in to the hands of the independent vegan restaurants,” says Walker.
Not everyone shares the same opinion. Some believe that the chain restaurants are enhancing the Leeds vegan scene. Now that vegan options are offered by mainstream restaurants, it raises awareness for the movement as a whole. Large restaurants relentlessly campaign to bring vegans in and promote their vegan menus.
Mog Lbu, recently sold her vegan junk food spot called Mogs, saying that business was very good and that she had to shut her business due to health and not because of the threat from big chains.
“I think for too long there has been a ridiculously high premium put on vegan food by independent businesses. I think people are too quick to be angry at chain restaurants because they are offering viable alternatives for people at a standard price.” `