While restaurateurs in the North of England typically eye sites in Leeds, Manchester and York, operators are beginning to view Hull as something of an untapped market.
The latest is Yorkshire-based restaurant group Ambiente Tapas, which rejected locations such as Harrogate to launch its £300,000 flagship site in the city.
It has joined £1m Indian restaurant Tapasya and bistro-style Butler Whites at the £80m redevelopment of the city’s former Fruit Market.
Ambiente Tapas owner Tim Sinclair described Hull as a ‘sleeping giant’ with huge potential.
He said: “It’s really exciting. [Hull] is a massive market that is under-served by high-quality restaurants with many people choosing to go to places like Leeds and York for a distinctive dining experience.
“In 12 months’ time I would like to think [Hull] can surpass the commercial performance of our Fossgate restaurant in York. It’s a massive opportunity.”
Gap in the hotel market
And it’s not just restaurants that are beginning to explore the city.
Despite recording an Average Daily Rate (ADR) below the regional UK average, Colliers named Hull as one of the fastest growing hotel markets in the UK earlier this year.
Hilton Worldwide will launch its high-end DoubleTree brand in the city next year, complete with a destination restaurant and 1000 sq.m ballroom designed to attract conferences and events to the city.
Richard Farrar, founder of Leaf Hospitality, which will manage the hotel, said there was a gap in the city's high-end market.
“There’s a real buzz about Hull and a shortage of premium hotels in the city centre, but the market is robust and continuing to develop,” he said.
“The spotlight is on the city to accommodate a rise in business visits and a steady growth in leisure tourism anticipated as a result of Hull’s City of Culture status next year, and we’re confident of its long-term sustainability as a vibrant leisure and business destination.”
Hull City Council are currently investing a further £80m into the City Centre ahead of 2017, including the construction of a new 3,500 capacity music and events venue.
The 300,000 sq.ft Princes Quay shopping centre will also see a £20m investment to create a new outlet mall and restaurants.
Rob Scott-South, group general manager of Ambiente Tapas, said he was hoped people would re-think their views of the medieval city.
“We’re not just here because of 2017,” he said. “It’s a long-term investment. Generally, there is a perception of Hull outside the area that is not particularly positive, but it’s simply not true.
“We want people to come to our restaurant, to Hull and to the Fruit Market and see what a beautiful place it is.
“We like the idea that, by using our popularity within Yorkshire, we can attract more people to come and see Hull for what it is – a really great place to visit.”