#ETW17: Independent eating, drinking and shopping

If there’s one thing the Love Middlesbrough lasses love (apart from cake, hot chocolate, and the Very Hungry Caterpillar), it’s eating, drinking and shopping. And Middlesbrough just happens to be full of fantastic independents for all your shopping, eating, drinking, hair and beauty (and more) needs. So many wonderful things – where to start…?
Bedford Street Coffee


Whether you want a clock, a pair of designer trainers, or a new tattoo, you can get all of them (and more) without ever leaving the comfort of Middlesbrough!

With more independent businesses than you can shake a stick at, Boro’s got you covered no matter what the occasion. Beautiful wedding dresses? Check. Last minute birthday present for the person who’s got everything? Check. Emergency pair of 90s denim dungarees? Check (yes, you definitely need them).

Independent businesses are clustered on the wonderfully fabulous Baker and Bedford Streets, as well as neighbouring Linthorpe Road, Borough Road, and Grange Road, but that’s not the end of it. From Concept on Linthorpe Road to TP Coffee House in Middlehaven, our independent offer stretches across the whole town centre, not to mention into every corner of the town too – from hairdressers in Hemlington to bouquets in Berwick Hills.


Our lovely town’s foodie offer can only be described as multicultural, and who wouldn’t want to sample dishes from around the world, from the comfort of your own town? Whether you fancy Spanish chorizo at The Curing House or Turkish lahmacun at Meze Lounge, that’s just the tip of the iceberg – add in Italian, Chinese, African, Greek, Lebanese, Mexican, Indian, and Caribbean, and you’ll start to get a picture of how much of a foodie paradise this town is! (Plus, if you add in national chains, there’s also French, Portuguese, and more Caribbean!) And if after all that you’re still not convinced, there’s always somewhere which will do you a parmo!

Speaking of food, watch out for the hotly-anticipated return of Restaurant Week on May 1 – what better excuse to eat all the food!

Oh, and Middlesbrough has cake…a lot of cake…but that would need a whole other post! (You didn’t expect us to go a whole post without mentioning cake did you?)

Drinking and nightlife

As well as a culinary world tour, Boro can also lay claim to being a micropub and bar hotspot, with no less than ten quirky drinking establishments clustered around the Baker/Bedford Street/Linthorpe/Borough Road area. The Nuthatch’s craft cocktails rub shoulders with the Chairman’s real ale, while at Sticky Fingers you can enjoy a locally-produced pie and live music with your drink.

(We don’t want to miss anyone out, so here’s the full list: The Nuthatch, The Chairman, Sticky Fingers, The Twisted Lip, The Bottled Note, The Devil’s Advocate, Dovecot Bar, The Slaters Pick, Sherlocks, The Infant Hercules).


A final word

So independents may be a little more expensive than a national chain which can afford to keep its prices low, but the money spent in an independent business might just go on a child’s dance lessons or helping a someone provide for their family.

Money spent locally stays local for much longer than a few financial drops in the ocean of the profits of a huge national corporation. No corporation will miss the price of a sandwich or a new outfit in the grand scheme of things, but to small businesses every penny matters, and Middlesbrough is lucky enough to have a whole range of independents who are talented, dedicated and care about the town.

(Many thanks to Stuart Boulton for the lovely photo of Bedford Street Coffee!)

Love Middlesbrough Lasses


Orange Pip’s Boro Buzz

On Saturday it was the third Orange Pip Market and once again Baker Street, Middlesbrough was absolutely buzzing and the place to be.

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Artisan food and drink, live entertainment and a fantastic atmosphere; Orange Pip Market is Middlesbrough’s biggest success story of the summer. Remember, stick a cross against the last Saturday of every month in your diary.

orange pip uly tall 3In fact even the weather has been playing ball because there is rarely a cloud in the sky when market day comes round and temperatures invariably soar. This all contributes to a market day that is packing out the Edwardian terraced Baker Street from 12 noon to early evening and giving the independent traders that feed and water us a massive and well deserved fillip.

If it is good for them then it is also so good for the town and the area. I guess the next thing to ask is where does the market go from here? When winter comes and finally the market day weather breaks how will everyone head for cover?

With such runaway popularity is there a possibility of spreading to neighbouring Bedford Street where the premises of some of the stalls are actually based? That could help produce an even bigger footfall or would that serve to dissipate the impact of an event that is now a real focal point for the whole community.

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There were face painters, hair stylists and vintage photographers at work on entering Baker Street on Saturday.  Stalls selling cakes, crepes, teas, coffees and salad presented welcoming and fragrant aromas. Hog roasts were going down an absolute treat. And an Orange Pip twist on the Tees-tastic Parmo, an artisan Parmo was proving a major hit.

The brilliant Tom Joshua and his mighty band kicked off the live music entertainment in fine style. A young lad who is proving himself to be a singer songwriter of real skill, Tom wooed the crowds spilling out from the tables and chairs and stopped people in their tracks processing down the pavements either side. He even had us joining in his final chorus.

A marvellous Middlesbrough afternoon and once again Pip Pip hooray for the organisers of the Orange Pip Market.

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Generation Red Royal Seal of Approval

The Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Mr Barry Dodd CBE, made a special visit to Boro’s award-winning Generation Red Family Zone earlier this month.

He met the team behind the ground-breaking scheme that has transformed the matchday experience for dozens of families within the East Stand at the Riverside Stadium and also talk with key partners, sponsors and some families.

Already sold out for Boro’s return to the Premier League in August, the GRFZ was launched in 2013 and was an immediate success, helping Middlesbrough FC win the Football League’s Family Club of the Year award the following year.

The East Stand concourse is a family-friendly area featuring activity areas, interactive computer games, giveaways and exciting pre-match entertainment. Partners include Everyone Active, Cornerstone Business Solutions, WH Smith, Frankie & Benny’s, Hollywood Bowl, Cineworld, Game and McDonald’s.

GRFZ 1A delegation of families and the three organisers from Boro Real Fans Believe in Dreams charity spoke about how they work hand in hand with the Boro and Generation Red Family Zone. Dave Brown, Manager of WH Smith, Teesside Park branch told the Lord Lieutenant about how he helps delver structured learning, boosting the literacy of young Boro fans.

Player visits are a regular feature and the GRFZ has become a smash hit with children and mums, dads and grandparents.

The Lord Lieutenant was greeted by Chief Operating Officer Mark Ellis and Head of Supporter Services Yvonne Ferguson before viewing features such as the Creative Corner, the Cornerstone Interactive Zone, the MFC Official Little Red Store, the Boro Yellow Brick Road and the Candy Cart.

He also met Helena Bowman, Head of Foundation, and MFCP charity partners.

He said as royal representative he would be taking a very positive message back to the Queen. He would be writing a note telling of all the great work being done at the GRFZ. The Lord Lieutenant went on to say that it would be such a big and very timely boost to be back in the Premier League.

After the visit I spoke with Dave Brown from WH Smith about his involvement in Generation Red Family Zone and to tell us more about the fun, entertainment and education that goes on in this colourful and creative corner of the Riverside every match day.

GRFZ 2Q: You have just met the Lord Lieutenant, what did you tell him about what you are doing?

DB: It is part of the WH SMITH initiative to have a corporate responsibility in all our local stores with any educational ties we can get. At Teesside Park we decided to go to the football ground. Young lads that don’t usually read, they won’t go to libraries, or go to bookshops as much as young girls. The reading age in Middlesbrough is really quite low, we are deprived area. I think the statistics for Middlesbrough is that 1 in 4 kids don’t own their own book under the age of 8, which is ridiculous so we have got to go to where the kids are.

If you come to Middlesbrough Football Club we sponsor an educational half time, up in the Sub’s Bench. There are book loanings, so you can use your season card to loan books out, to get the young lads back into reading. The books are specially designed and chosen by a local school teacher and the activities we do all fall in line with the national curriculum. So it is not just finger painting and messing about, there is a real reason behind what we do.

GRFZ ActivityQ: Are the activities structured?

DB: Yes each activity is structured. Not only to the age of the child but also seasonal or what is going on. So, if it was Valentines, we might be making cards but there would be a reason behind it. We also do things around away teams when they come. So, people can look on the map and see how many miles they have travelled, what is the area like, what are the people like. A bit of history about the town that is coming. So they get to know about the team that is visiting as well.

Q: If it is 3pm kick off talk us through your day in the Generation Red Family Zone.

DB: Well, the idea from the club is trying to extend the life of your ticket. So if you pay for your ticket on a match day you basically think well that is from kick off until the final whistle blows. But actually you can get more out of your ticket. If you come in at 12.30 the family zone is open. So you extend the value of your ticket, you get more from it.

So, we sit at the tables and do some activities with the kids. It might be competitions. We have a lot of other partners such as Game, Frankie and Bennies. It really is educational based but it is an activity to keep them happy.

Q: Fun as well.

DB: Oh yes. Some of the other things we do. We do a big day around World Book Day, which all kids in primary schools get a voucher for a free book. What the club does is sponsor its own World Book Day through WHSMITH where any child that comes to WHSMITH in the area gets a free book on that day. No one else in the country does that. No other football club, Premier League or not have invested like Middlesbrough has in World Book Day which means that every child gets a book, which is a phenomenal thing when you think about it. So, that is why we say seasonal, there will be lots of Christmas activities of course etc.

GRFZ BeeSo, once we have done that, we usually do a really fun activity like wishing the players well, it will be educational based or book based. After that, you are not allowed up to the Subs Bench until half time. There is a meeting point downstairs and a member of staff from the Family Zone takes the parent and the kids upstairs.

It was originally set up 3 years back when the football was pretty poor and to get a child to sit through 90 minutes of dross. You were lucky if you got them through the first half, especially in winter if it was raining. There was plenty to do in the concourse but if you have got a small child it meant that the families could bring the kids with them, not just the dads. We had a lovely couple that met at the match but when they had kids stopped coming. It was a reason for them to actually start coming again which is a great story.

We take them upstairs and we do book loaning, a bit of crafting. It gives them 15 minutes away from the cold, with free tea and coffee if it is cold. And there are changing facilities for babies. Soft play for the kids. It is genuinely being copied all around the country. We have people from Birmingham, Preston, Sheffield coming to look at what we do and treat it as a blueprint.

It has gone down really well with my company, WHSMITH and they have sponsored it from the top level. Our managing director or retail, Kevin Hall, has been every year to come and check on it and he sponsors us, so you couldn’t get any higher accolade than that and it has become an integral part of our corporate responsibility when we submit it to the City at the end of September. You find WHSMITHS Teesside Park and Middlesbrough Football Club on that submit and the City love it and think it is a good use for our resources in the end adds to my share price which keeps me in a job (laughs).

GRFZ 4Q: You are wearing the Boro hat and you are saying it is cool to read.

DB: Other footballers have been in to this for a while, Frank Lampard has something like 13 books. All good reads. I know he does actually write himself. Mark Schwarzer, wrote in Australia and there is Theo Walcott, he has a list of them too. It is nothing new but it is new to the kids because they haven’t seen this before and might not realise that football fits in well educationally. Everyone Active do this because of the health benefits as well. We do things around diet, we do fruit upstairs. There are loads of activities. If you think of how you can benefit then we will have touched upon it at some point. Middlesbrough is open to any suggestions.

The brand of the area now is Middlesbrough Football Club there is nothing else to stick my brand to.

GRFZ Dave BrownQ: Now it is Premier.

DB: Now it is Premier League. Three years ago we thought we were mad to get involved. And they have been loyal to us; other clubs might drop us because we have got into the Premier League. We know we are here next season because they like what we do and it is not about making money. Which is the best thing.

Q: This is the future fan base for Boro and the future using WHSMITH and buying books here.

DB: Oh yes the feedback for us is fantastic. If we are in the shop, people come in and say hello and ask us what we are doing at the match next week and can you recommend a book. That book you leant us last week was fantastic. You can’t get any better than that, especially for young lads. The girls are great but the young lads would never have picked a book up. They would have picked a Match Attax sticker book up.

Q: Which is what you are doing now as we speak, showing the fun element.

DB: Yes. Some of the work the Foundation does we can work hand in hand with. They work with Football Manager working out percentages around winning promotions etc. You have to be savvy to use that game properly. We can use the things they have learned and then use it in the Concourse for younger kids. It is about finding horses for courses. It is a win/win for us as a company to be associated with this. Originally they thought we were mad but now we are associated with success which is fabulous.

Thank You To Dave Brown, manager WH Smith, Teesside Park


Hip Pip – Orange Market Success!

There was a great atmosphere at the first Orange Pip Market last Saturday. Down town Middlesbrough was the place to be, relaxing, milling and sampling the artisan food and entertainment provided by the talented independents. The sun came out and so did the crowds to crown a Whitsun Bank Holiday Weekend event to savour.

orange pip 3It was probably an introduction to Baker Street and its neighbouring Bedford Street and their mini food and drink emporiums, micro pubs, vintage clothes shops and hair dressing establishments. The monthly market is a great platform for the traders and also other Teesside artisans to show and sell their wares. All quality stuff that you could sample in a relaxed yet buzzy environment. There must have been thousands enjoying the Saturday afternoon in the vintage town centre street.

orange pip tall kidsWorking down the market from the Albert Road end there was a chance to get vintage photos from Charles Twist. Buy a vintage chequed shirt from a discount rail. You could sip some locally brewed ales at the three micro bars. If you could get past the Ugly Duckling fresh juice stall and resist the aromas of different warm foods, supplied from the likes of The Waiting Room or Piejackers. There were smart looking Scotch Eggs from the Clucking Pig, my friend Claire put a box of gorgeous looking cup cakes on her twitter feed from Songbird Bakery. There were more cakes from Lotti’s Voluptuous Delights of Stokesley. For this market has drawn in quality independent traders from right around the region.

In the end I snapped, I could resist the food no longer. I opted for a Thai Curry for just a fiver, while at the neighbouring stall people selected their deli meats from Bedford Street’s Curing House.

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We all settled down to dig in at long tables while up on the stage ukulele ace Amelia Coburn opened up a set of highly stylised cover versions with Tears for Fears, Mad World. The teenage performer has incredible charisma, no wonder some of my friends already talk about her as their favourite live performer. Amelia has totally re-possessed Ghost Town; it is a sensational transformation of The Specials song that raced to number one in the summer of 1981.

There was nothing ghostly about the vibrant atmosphere at Orange Pip. Orange Pip Market development officer Nicky Peacock described it as being something “totally different” for the town. Something of the spirit of established independent, artisan markets in Manchester and London. It is a Boro Borough Market. Along with the developments in Baker and Bedford Street Orange Pip Market is putting the heart and soul back into Middlesbrough.

orange pip1The next Orange Pip Market will be Saturday June 25th. Don’t miss it.



Oodles of Noodles

Oodles has been serving up its noodles for sixteen years. Owner George has seen so much change around him in Middlesbrough and is always a joy to talk to about his views on food and the town. I brought George round in front of his counter to share his thoughts and look forward to next week’s Middlesbrough Restaurant Week.

oodles frontQ: It is the third restaurant week, a different time of the year, May, and I am speaking to you on a lovely sunny day. Hopefully the sun will be shining then, too.

G: Wouldn’t it be smashing if that was the case. And also for the first time we are starting on a Bank Holiday Monday. A long weekend.

Q: There is going to be a big follow up of cycling events from Tour de Yorkshire on the Sunday for more events on Monday so hopefully drawing people in to town.

G: I will be working on Monday and I will be able to let you know. This is a celebration for Middlesbrough, that is the important thing and we will be opening and hoping for the best, for those that are joining in the celebration more than anything.

This is the third year. If you do it well it doesn’t matter when you hold it.

From 12th to 30th May the indie food festival is in Leeds, that is a huge big festival that is taking place. Honestly it would be good for people to go down because Leeds is now the food capital of Britain. They do a lot of food festivals. Every restaurant brings their food to Millennium Square. It is outstanding. But that is what we are trying to do here, at the end of the day.

oodles 2Q: How many years have you been opened here now, George?

G: Sixteen years.

Q: In the last couple of years you must have found a lot of changes. There are a lot more restaurants along Linthorpe Road. Opening as we speak actually.

G: Frango’s is the next one opening. Yes, that is true and there is a lot around here and there are a lot that have changed hands. That is quite good. A lot of them have tweaked under new management.

But Linthorpe Road South, which is this block, is starting to become the eating centre of Middlesbrough. Not withstanding Baker Street and Bedford Street as well, they are only a stone’s throw away.

oodles longQ: People are being drawn into the town now and they are being offered a real choice.

G: There is a reason now to come more than in the past and more than just for the shops as well. You can actually see the traffic footfall on this part of Linthorpe Road as well.

There is still a lot of awareness that needs to be created. Because a lot of the new ventures, like Bedford Street, they are getting a lot of promotion on hard copy and electronic copy etc but it takes time.

Q: A lot is word of mouth, I suppose.

G: Yes. And the word of mouth is spreading. No question about it. So, that is good for everybody. So the more there are food eating places around here it automatically compliments those in existence and also compliments those that are new, coming into the market.

Q: And do you still get a lot of customers coming in from offices etc at lunch time?

G: Yes, we will always do. We have been here so long, everyone knows us. If they want something that is noodle based this is where they will come to. It as simple as that.

Oodles food 1Q: You tell me every year that your are unique in that unless people go on social media on the day they will not know what your menu is until they come in to Oodles and read it.

G: No. They basically come because they know whichever one they pick is going to be consistently good. It is a question of whether they like it spicy today or they want something not spicy today and that is about it, really.

oodles meal 2Q: And they can ask your advice.

G: Yes. And most of the time if they are not too sure, that element of spiciness is a very personal thing, we can give them a bit of a taster.

Q: You serve dishes from right across the Far East don’t you?

G: Yes from right across south east Asia and east Asia as well. We get a lot of Chinese restaurants opening up and that is traditionally what they do, we do something slightly different and that is fine. It helps the town in terms of educating their eating habits too. This is also what Bedford Street is doing, introducing something different.

Q: What is your offer this year George?

G: Every year I try to do something different. This year we are going to offer people who are taking out or sitting in. A lot of our customers when they come in and try the food for the first time always take some of the food back for somebody else. Like a loved one or family etc. For example. Ooh the food is really good, let me take some back for my husband who has never tried it before. So this year what we are doing is if you are sitting in or taking out, we will 25% off on our regular take out. So rather than £4.80 you can get a take out for £3.60. People can say take one home and let aunty have it, or mum have it etc. Which is quite good. Obviously it is going to help the customer at the same time with the discount but more importantly is going to be applicable for the new customers. The existing customers are going to capitalise as well because it is a deal that is worth going for. We are not restricting it, it is applicable to all. You cannot restrict it because at the end of the day, you celebrate with the existing ones. Thank you, here is a discount. For the new ones because for £3.60 these days what you can you get? You can’t get a panini in town.

oodles mealI like to think about the offers and have a reason behind it. This is something that is becoming more apparent that loads of people are coming from out of town and shopping in Middlesbrough because of what Middlesbrough can offer. Then they find this place and they say Oh. If I am going back to Whitby, which is quite a way, I am going to take a couple of portions back. That is how the ideas come about. We do have a lot of customers from Darlington.

The customer that comes every week, that is the furthest is from Berwick. The family lives in Sunderland but he works in Berwick. So, when he is visiting his parents he will phone me up at 9 o’clock Friday morning. I say why do you ring me at 9am? Why don’t you just come in later on. He says I didn’t tell you that I am coming from Berwick. He drives all the down from Berwick to Middlesbrough, picks the food up and then he drives to Sunderland and drops it off to his family and then he goes back up to Berwick again, every Friday. He would come and buy four to five portions.

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Photos Tracy Hyman

136 Linthorpe Road

tel: 01642 243 809

Mon – Sat 9am – 8pm


restaurant week

Middlesbrough Restaurant Week – Monday 2nd – Sunday 8th May 2016