VARIETY available nowhere else, top independent restaurants and something for everyone is what keeps Leigh vibrant, fresh and busy according to business owners.

Restaurant and cafe bosses also say that a constant arrival of new businesses coming through keeps competition healthy and visitors interested.

The latest addition will be an Italian restaurant in the former TUI travel agent in Leigh Broadway, with a licence to serve alcohol until 1am at weekends.

Sara Welton, owner of Sara’s Tea Garden in the High Street, said: “Leigh has always been a very vibrant place and businesses like ours help to keep it like that.

"We are very much on the ball, we keep everything up to date, and we’re very dog-friendly.

“I think having independent businesses helps keep Leigh vibrant and fresh and busy, and we all need support.

“I think being by the sea, and how close we are to London, helps to draw in more business too.”

She said the more independent businesses that open in Leigh, the more attractive the town is to customers and clients.

Jake Booth, 27, co-founder of Franks restaurant in Leigh Broadway, agreed.

He said: “Having all the different food offerings and lots of places bringing something different and new concepts help the town.

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“We were seeing very similar businesses open here, but since Covid we are seeing more diversity in the Broadway.

“I think having new businesses coming all the time helps keep thing fresh, and it is healthy competition too.

“I think Leigh is becoming known as a great area for food and restaurants.”

A licensing application for the new venue was submitted last month, and follows the closure of TUI after the Covid pandemic sent shockwaves through the tourism industry.

Caroline Burpta, 39, owner of Cucina in Leigh’s Broadway, believes the town thrives off having smaller and different businesses.

She said: “Having something different really helps to draw in the customers.

"It’s an affluent area with independent restaurants and bars, all offering a diverse range of food and drink.

“I think here in Leigh we offer things you can’t get elsewhere and we have so many things that make us different.”

Gjovan Pacani, 45, owner of Leigh Bistro, in the Broadway, emphasised how the town’s eateries and bars offer something for the whole family.

He said: “I think Leigh is kept vibrant and busy by the variety on offer by the small businesses and I think that’s what makes Leigh outstanding.

“There is nowhere else like it with so much variety. I think we are now the centre of dining in this area. You can find everything you want in Leigh and there’s everything here.

“We have something for all ages from the youngsters to families and older people too. We go out and get our products and ingredients each week from markets and it’s all chosen by me.”