As the pandemic and lockdowns began crushing the dreams of many independent businesses in March 2020, a passionate group of local companies decided to fight back by getting together and launching the Leeds Indie Food Directory.

Initially set up to provide a lifeline to local independent bars, pubs, restaurants and food and drink retailers as the first lockdown kicked in, the initiative tapped into the ‘Support Local’ momentum by providing an easy way for consumers to buy from and support their favourite businesses.

With nearly 900 indies already signed up, the directory helps independent businesses get the support they need from their neighbours and local communities to survive the pandemic and thrive once things start to open up again.

The directory is free for indie businesses to sign up to and a new, all-singing and all-dancing website has been launched.

Speaking about the project, Simon Fogal of Chapter 81, said:

“After the success of a mini directory we produced during the first lockdown, we realised that this could become something even bigger. The online directory is not only really useful, but it is also user-friendly, ensuring that the independents that want to
be featured can be found really easily. It’s so reassuring to see how many indies are asking to be added to the directory and feedback from local residents using the directory is incredibly positive, proving what a useful tool it has become.”

The initiative has been driven and funded by PR & Social Media specialists Chapter 81 with the website designed and built by Hungry Sandwich Club with additional support from Ed Carlisle, Brudenell Social Club, Playful Leeds, Hyde Park Book Club and Duke Studios.

The site also features a shop, gift cards, hampers, merchandise and exclusive one-off products from indies that will launch throughout the year. Confident they have tapped into something truly special, there are further plans to develop the concept in 2021.

Simon Fogal continued:

“As it is free to join the directory, it’s a really simple way for indies to raise their profile and get more people shopping with them. Inspired by the #BUYLEEDS organic campaign that challenges people to think about their shopping habits and give local businesses more support, we are including makers and producers in the directory to enhance the offering. There is some great emerging talent that deserves to be recognised. Our hampers are a limited edition trial, but they are proving so popular that we are considering rolling more out this year featuring different indies, of course.”

Ed Carlisle, Green Party member and advocate for Leeds, said:

“It’s great to be part of such an exciting project within Leeds. I’m passionate about supporting local businesses and injecting cash back into the economy, especially during these troubling times for small businesses. When people shop in their local area they get
to meet the person or people behind that business. Seeing exactly where your money goes is so rewarding and it could be a lifeline to businesses who have struggled to keep their heads above water this year. This initiative shines a spotlight on what Leeds has to offer and it’s really impressive to see just how many indies we have in and around Leeds. I’m looking forward to discovering more.”

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