Newport council's leader is calling on independent restaurant operators to raise the bar for dining in the area ahead of the city hosting the 2010 Ryder Cup.
Matthew Evans, who became leader of Newport Council earlier this year, told Caterersearch that while there were a number of good restaurants and hotels in the surrounding areas, Newport's city centre had a "real lack" of quality dining outlets.
He added that with regeneration taking place and the 2010 Ryder Cup to be held at the city's Celtic Manor Resort, there had never been a better time for restaurateurs to come to the area.
Evans said: "The Ryder Cup is the third largest sporting event in the world and presents a real opportunity to put Newport on the international map."
"Newport does lag a little behind in terms of its regeneration but as the new council we are trying to change this and there are a lot of plans in the pipeline including a £200m shopping mall and the redevelopment of the railway station," said Evans who prior to becoming a politician ran his own corporate event catering company.
"The city centre really needs independent restaurant operators not just for the next two years but for the long-term."
However, Welsh restaurant operators have questioned the viability of launching higher end restaurants in Newport.
Stephen Terry, chef-proprietor of The Hardwick in Abergavenny, said: "The Ryder Cup will only be there for a week and I wonder whether there is enough demand to sustain restaurant businesses in Newport.
"Cardiff is the only capital city that doesn't have a Michelin-starred restaurant and I think there's a reason for that. I'm just not sure there's a market for fine dining restaurants in Wales."
Bryan Webb, chef-proprietor of Tyddyn Llan near Corwen, agreed. "People working in Newport city centre don't tend to return there to eat out," he said. "When I decided to return to Wales I considered opening a restaurant in Newport but I decided against it as it just wouldn't have worked."
By Kerstin Kühn
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