As the world was locked inside and life felt like it was on pause, the suburbs and towns around Leeds and York still yearned to keep their communities together. The last two years have been unprecedented, and we’ve seen many people working from home, businesses close down, others reopening, and even some thriving through these strange months. 

A pandemic may have temporarily taken over our lives, but in suburbs such as Horsforth in Leeds and Acomb in York, they are determined to come out of it stronger. By quickly discovering our new behaviours and adapting to changing demands, independent businesses and local communities have held up their neighbourhoods and shone throughout the uncertainty. 

Many new businesses have emerged in areas and transformed them into an independent haven that is encouraging people to shop local. And this is in turn creating a change in shopping and eating habits thanks to the sustainable and ethical businesses making local their home, encouraging alternative lifestyles and inspiring those in the suburbs to think and act positively.

As daily routines have adjusted, our new lives allow us to appreciate the places closer to us and recognise the incredible changes in our local neighbourhoods. Who would’ve thought something positive could come out of a pandemic?

Acomb was formerly a residential area for workers which now has a real community spirit thanks to regular events, neighbourhood activities and independent businesses keeping the people connected and together. Discover six of those great independent businesses here.

Bluebird Bakery

This independent award-winning bakery, Bluebird began as an idea at a kitchen table and has now expanded to Acomb, Malton, York city centre and Leeds Kirkgate Market. Their bakery, shop and cafe in Acomb is the perfect place if you’re looking for freshly baked bread, pastries and sweet treats like brownies, lemon muffins and tea cakes.

The Greengrocer of Acomb

On York road in Acomb, The Greengrocer is an independent business and deli serving their customers with the highest quality produce including everyone’s favourite cheeses, bread, jams, savoury pastries, cooked meats, as well as the traditional fruit and veg you would expect.

The Crooked Tap

The Crooked Tap opened in March 2019 and has since become a real community hub serving great beer. The idea of a micro-brewery turned into a reality and has become a favourite spot for many needs – whether that’s hanging out with friends, having a book club meeting, or wanting a new ‘work-from-home’ space, The Crooked Tap is the place to go.

JoJo’s Afro-Caribbean

This African goods store, also on York Road in Acomb, specialises in African food, produce and clothing. Tops and dresses in traditional materials and patterns are available to buy, as well as hair products and food for those wanting to taste the authentic flavours of Africa.

Ruby’s Coffee Shop

On Front Street in Acomb you’ll find Ruby’s Coffee House, an independent family-run business who are open seven days a week. You can enjoy your most important meal of the day at Ruby’s, with delicious options of a full English breakfast, avocado on toast or pancakes that come with different toppings such as biscoff or bacon and syrup. Or if you’re an avid coffee drinker, treat yourself to a good brew at Ruby’s, where you can choose from a selection of milks and syrups to add to your drink.

Laughing Llama Coffee & Bistro

This family friendly coffee and bistro in Acomb serves great food and drinks from Monday to Saturday where you can eat in or takeaway. So whether you’re just wanting to grab a quick, freshly roasted coffee or stop in for a delicious lunch, you can choose from a tasty selection of sandwiches and hot drinks. Laughing Llama is also the perfect place to bring your children as they have a designated children’s area filled with toys.

Images: Bluebird Bakery, Greengrocer of Acomb, Ruby’s Coffee House, The Crooked Tap, The Laughing Llama