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South Wales' increasing appetite for eating out is revealed in new figures.

Byline: Liz Day Reporter

FROM lavish three-course meals to spontaneous street food, diners in South Wales have never been more spoilt for choice as new food businesses flourish.

According to figures we have obtained exclusively from local authorities, the number of new restaurants has increased by nearly a third in the last year, with street food traders up by almost a fifth.

A total of 321 new restaurants, cafes and canteens registered with councils in Cardiff, Caerphilly and the Vale of Glamorgan in 2014/15, compared to 248 in the previous year.

Tom Morgan, co-founder of tapas restaurant Bar 44, is preparing to open a new branch in Cardiff next month, which he hopes will build on the success of branches in Cowbridge and Penarth.

He said: "We have always been keen to expand into Cardiff, but felt that in the past, independent restaurants always faced an uphill battle in the city centre which was swamped with chains.

"But it is has become increasingly evident over the last 18 months that the landscape has massively improved and people are seeking out more interesting and better quality dining experiences." The new restaurant will open on Westgate Street in June, with two kitchens and space for 120 diners.

Tom and his brother Owen have already advertised for 30 new members of staff, including supervisors, waiters, bar staff and kitchen staff.

Owen said: "We've always wanted to expand our operation beyond Cowbridge and Penarth.

"Previously, we've focused on opening in affluent, suburban locations, but as the popularity of Cardiff city centre's food scene has grown, it has become a focus for us."

The brothers believe cookery programmes have helped to create demand for new restaurants and different dining experiences.

Tom added: "With an explosion of great cookery shows on television, the expectations and knowledge of the public has set the bar higher for independent restaurants and bars like ourselves.

"The demand for genuine quality and specialisation has increased to fuel the growth of this section of the industry."

Cardiff has seen the number of new restaurants, cafes and canteens, like Apple Jacks, Chai Street and Five Guys, rise by a quarter in the past year, from 120 in 2013/14 to 153 in 2014/15.

Chai Street, which opened on Cowbridge Road East in January, is the fifth restaurant run by Indian fine dining chain Mint and Mustard.

Spokeswoman Claire Sully said: "We needed to expand from our flagship restaurant in Whitchurch Road to deal with demand.

"Since Chai Street opened, we have had people queueing to get in."

It is not just restaurants that are flourishing in South Wales - street food is also enjoying an explosion in popularity.

The number of mobile food units newly registered across the area, like Dirty Bird and Ffwrnes Pizza, has risen by nearly 20%, from 90 in 2013/14 to 106 a year later.

Many of these street food traders are taking part in pop-up events, such as Depot on Dumballs Road and Street Food Circus on John Street in Cardiff.

Ian Fernando, of Cardiff-based Macho Nacho, said: "I think street food is just a good opportunity for people to try something different.

"It is more of an experience - something a little bit more fun and creative."

Jez Phillips, cofounder of Ffwrnes Pizza, said: "The street food scene has been gaining momentum in London and Manchester, so we thought it would take off in Cardiff.

"I think people like the choice, because you can have 15 different stalls, each with a different speciality, from pizza to barbecue to tapas.

"As a mobile food unit, we have low overheads, so we can concentrate on using the best ingredients. We can park up anywhere, any time."


Tom and Owen Morgan of Bar 44

The Depot hosts street food traders

The Miller and Carter Steakhouse in The Hayes

Five Guys opened in the city earlier this year

James Sommerin's restaurant on the Esplande, Penarth

Street Food Circus

Some of the food on offer at Chai Street

Larkin Cen and Dale Williams at Hokkei
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 11, 2015
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