Create is a restaurant in Leeds with a real social conscience, just one part of a social enterprise founded over six years ago helping to train people from vulnerable backgrounds and get them into the workplace. It’s our very own West Yorkshire version of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen and perhaps even wider reaching supporting over 500 people in the past six years. The restaurant also won best ethical restaurant in The Observer Food Awards 2012.
I have to admit we never go to the restaurant enough – three times in a six month period isn’t a lot – but I’ve written before about how competitive the Leeds restaurant scene is and the challenges (and opportunities) the independents have. Whenever we walked past it never seemed rammed but always a few people in and we always said we’d give it a go next time we were out. But the location didn’t help keep the place front of mind for us, awkward to get to and park and on the fringe of the central part of the city in the heart of the financial/legal quarter, which should have been good for lunches at least.
All three times I visited it was a 100% per cent great experience. The food was excellent, the prices on the right side of keen and the service and place first rate. And even though I told people about it, not that many people knew about it. Twitter folk seemed to be aware of it and those ‘in the know’, but not it seems the valuable mass market.
On Friday I had lunch with a friend there and we had a lovely two courses each for £20, which given the quality of the food was a complete bargain and we both said so. After lunch we were told by the waitress that the restaurant was closing, the official line being a refurb but she informed us that it was closing due to economic pressures. If this is the case, then it’s a shame as Create is an absolute gem. But I know social enterprises have the same commercial pressures commercial enterprises face and the harsh economic climate continues to claim its victims right across the board.
I am passionate about the independent businesses in Leeds and will support them at all costs, but as the customer choice increases in the city – as it surely will with the monolithic Trinity Shopping Centre coming on stream in March – the indies have to continue to their thing brilliantly well, or they will be picked off one by one by the corporate snipers.