Broomhill: Why food businesses love student-friendly Sheffield neighbourhood as it’s named ‘foodie hub’

Autumn has well and truly arrived in Broomhill - rain is a daily occurrence, wet leaves stick to the pavement, and the sky is grey. But the warming smell of coffee fills the air.
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Broomhill, to the west of Sheffield, is a suburb with a cosy feel to it, and a place thousands of students, families, and young professionals fondly call home. 

The suburb is just a 20 minute walk from the city centre, but here, there is little need to walk much further than Weston Park for an amble around the ponds. Broomhill has schools, nurseries, care homes, hospitals, and shops for all your necessities - and let’s not forget the all important pubs, restaurants and cafes. 

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Broomhill has been the birthplace of many successful Sheffield food businesses, including Cawa Coffee which opened its first branch at a tiny premises in 2017. Six years on, it now has six branches, with many more in the pipeline, and a huge bakery near Meadowhall. 

Broomhill is a popular destination for students, families and young professionals to live in.Broomhill is a popular destination for students, families and young professionals to live in.
Broomhill is a popular destination for students, families and young professionals to live in.

Last month the firm announced it would be opening another venue in Broomhill, and described the suburb as a "foodie hub", similar to that of Kelham Island. So we went out and spoke to businesses on the ground to find out what it’s like working in the area.

Thyme Cafe, on Glossop Road, is one of Broomhill’s longest-standing restaurants, and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Restaurant manager Christian Donneger, who lives on London Road, said it’s an area full of "loyal customers" - but the pressures of the cost-of-living crisis and coming back from the pandemic has been difficult for the area.

Christian Donneger, restaurant manager at Thyme Cafe, said they have many "loyal customers".Christian Donneger, restaurant manager at Thyme Cafe, said they have many "loyal customers".
Christian Donneger, restaurant manager at Thyme Cafe, said they have many "loyal customers".
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"We’ve got people coming far and wide to visit us," he said. "I think compared to other areas, people have generally got some money to spend here - it’s a bit more buoyant compared to other places. But we have noticed a drop in trade since Covid.

"People are more choosy with their time and money, it’s a difficult time. When this place first opened there was very little competition, but it’s good there’s more diversity and cuisines from different regions now.

"We have a lot of customers who see ourselves as a home away from home. We’ve got good support from customers across the board, from students and their families, to local families, and then older retirees who enjoy what we offer."

Cathal Langan, owner of The Nottingham House pub, in the recently refurbished garden area. Cathal Langan, owner of The Nottingham House pub, in the recently refurbished garden area.
Cathal Langan, owner of The Nottingham House pub, in the recently refurbished garden area.

The Nottingham House, on Whitham Road, undoubtedly has an iconic reputation for its homemade pies. Cathal Langan, known as Cax, has owned the pub for 12 years, and worked there for 20. 

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In the past two decades, the pub has transformed from the ‘Grotty Notty’, to the relaxed Notty House it is now. Cax, who lives in Crookes, tells us his customer base ranges from locals who have been visiting ever since he started working at the pub, to students.

"The annual influx of students is always a refresh, you never know what you’re going to get," Cax said. "Each September it’s excitement with a touch of anxiety, but like in any pub, it’s always the people that make it."

Cax described Broomhill as having an "ever evolving community", with new businesses often popping up. Staff at Notty House have also made friends with other businesses, such as Proove Pizza, where they swap pies for pizzas. But as with the rest of the hospitality industry, the rising of costs has caused issues.

Cax said: "People are definitely choosing where they spend their money, but we’re just trying to keep it going."

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Nottingham House is looking at hosting DJ nights on Saturdays and monthly speed quizzes. 

On Fulwood Road is Proove Pizza with quite the success story. Since co-owners Deepak and Rob opened the restaurant in 2015, Proove now has four locations in Manchester, Hertford, and two in Sheffield, with one at Orchard Square that opened in August

General manager Charlie Eden and Sally Flude, brand manager, at Proove in Broomhill.General manager Charlie Eden and Sally Flude, brand manager, at Proove in Broomhill.
General manager Charlie Eden and Sally Flude, brand manager, at Proove in Broomhill.

Sally Flude, brand manager, described the area as having a "tight knit community", and Proove has even collaborated with local businesses, such as Famous Tattoo on Glossop Road, to create special pizzas at discounted prices for their customers.

Sally said: "This is the type of community where small businesses get together and try to offer something new to their customers. 

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"We’ve got a real community here, we’ve got the little old ladies who love a pizza and a bottle of wine, we’ve got the local school kids and families, the students - anybody who likes really good pizza.

"There’s such a wide choice of places to eat here, and I think that’s partly why a lot of people who live locally also want to eat locally, and feel like they are contributing to their community."

Proove offers a large menu with gluten free and vegan options, and the chefs are constantly bringing new ideas to light.

Sally added: "If you have a local crowd, you can’t be complacent in what you offer, and that’s why we create specials every month to keep it interesting. Our customers deserve quality and that’s what we give them so that they come back."