Liverpools Independent Scene - Penny Magazine

This is the tenth year that we have been in business as GSG and the world has changed dramatically in all quarters over the last decade. Ten years ago the city was largely behind its Northern counterparts on the independent restaurant and bar scene, particularly Manchester and Leeds, yet in the years since Liverpool has risen up and become home to one of the most diverse independent food and drink social scenes in the country.


   When we opened a bar called Santa Chupitos in 2009, which is now in its testimonial year, we could not have imagined that it would help kickstart the independent scene in the city as we now know it and see the extensive development of the Ropewalks area, which at the time was a forgotten derelict part of the city, massively underusing some of the buildings holding the most character and history. The area has since flourished and at the start of the decade, Seel Street was named one of the countries hippest streets. It is now home to the towns largest late night and predominantly independent economy, while Bold Street, one of the cities most iconic streets, has become a mecca for some of the most artisanal independent eateries in the city centre. 


    The last few years we have seen the emergence of the imaginative Baltic Triangle. Known as the creative and digital quarter, its original name is a debate, either named after the warehouses that stored the wood imported from Norway or perhaps due to the large whaling business that once occurred within its walls. These days you are more likely to see MacBook’s, tech companies, roastery’s, food halls and some of the best places to be catching big DJs in some of the cleverly refurbished warehouses. It is also home to Cain’s Brewery Village, which has been the major part of the redevelopment in the area, bringing together a diverse range of bar offerings and all be it in a different guise, an iconic brewery building back to life. The development is ongoing, seeing an increasing amount of  bedrooms being built in the area and retail shops moving in, creating a strong young distinct neighbourhood that is forward thinking and sustainable.


    The cities quarters over the past 5 years have now become geographically clear. Ironically, it was L1 that made this all possible, a mainly chain related area and the city’s main retail space, making them all interlinked and assessable on foot. This has distinctly enabled the city to grow organically and helped create a varied food and drink scene, from the Mathew street nostalgia to the pre theatre dining on the cobbled streets of the cities Georgian quarter. We are also seeing an upsurge in independents in the Castle Street area which was predominantly in the past known as a business district and also the iconic Albert dock as it tries try to re position itself to locals by bringing in some of the best of the cities talent to a very tourist driven area. 


    Nowadays the changing trends mirrored in retail and hospitality make for a demanding and a constantly evolving industry. The thought processes on our spending have geared the consumer to think about where their hard earned money is being spent and this is where the story of the independent has relevance and also where social media plays a beneficial role in telling that story. Yet, the ever changing façade can cause its problems in saturation, especially as the economic world is currently crumbling around its society at the moment. So there is often reinvention and we are now seeing a merger of sectors, through experiential concepts. 


    Due to diversity and complexity of peoples need is challenging to any businesses

This is one reason why we are seeing the rise of the food hall and relaxed social dining environments as they mirror societies wide ranging needs and they also bring back to life some iconic buildings into social hubs. Duke Street, once a walkway to other areas, is fast becoming the latest to see these developments. We have been lucky enough to play a part in this in opening Duke Street Food and Drink Market and it has been welcomed with open arms by the people of Liverpool, with 3 new openings on the street to come this year involving an experiential bowling concept and one of Manchester popular brand the future is looking good for Duke Street and for Liverpool. 


    Northern cities are developing into a beacon for the largest rise in independent start-up businesses, Liverpool being the highest outside London. Telling a story of strength, community, diversity and creativity. If you can shop independent you should as it can bring together neighbourhoods, harbour the local economy and give a place a unique cultural environment to live in, something that Liverpool has reignited from parts of its past to create a bright future and home to a contemporary culinary hub.



Matthew Farrell