Spotlight on: Hillsborough

In recent years, Hillsborough has gained a deserved reputation as an ‘up and coming’ area of the city, thanks largely to a host of new businesses opening in the S6 suburb. No longer just a mecca for charity shops and B&M, Ash Birch introduces you to a few of the businesses responsible for the area’s resurgence…


AH: Orange Bird opened in November 2020. Right in the middle of lockdown as a takeout to begin with. We weren’t specifically going to be a South African restaurant at first, but one of the weeks in lockdown Matt wanted to do South African food because that’s where he grew up. It went down really well, so we decided that’s what we’d be. 

MDJ: The South African theme has given us more direction, especially with the menu. I’ve always been interested in South African food and I loved it when I was growing up. 

What have been some of the highlights in the time since you opened?

AH: The fact that we got the Observer runner up (Orange Bird scooped runner up in the Best Restaurant North category of the Observer Food Monthly Awards 2022) meant that more people knew about us, which meant that we could just be what we were. People were then coming from other bits of Sheffield to visit. 

You both have vast experience working in venues around the city. Why did you pick Hillsborough to open your own place?

AH: We both live in Hillsborough and we thought then, what we know now, that there was potential for more here than there was.

MDJ: I’ve always loved the buzz of Hillsborough. It’s always busy. A lot of people were saying we should open in Walkley or Broomhill, but it’s not the quite the same as Hillsborough. It’s a real community. 

Has it helped having a spate of new businesses open around you?

AH: Pangolin is just the perfect partner to have. I think we help them and, because people can have a whole night out, they help us. They’re lovely neighbours.

How do you feel about being part of this new community? 

AH: Great. I don’t know how much specifically it helps our business, but I think it’s just elevated Hillsborough in people’s minds. The same people who would say to us, ‘Why are you opening in Hillsborough?’ now say to us, ‘Oh yeah, Hillsborough is up and coming, isn’t it?’ 

MDJ: I don’t think it will be long before someone does something similar to this. Not South African, obviously, but a restaurant serving good food, which will hopefully be good for us as well. 



Molly’s had quite an eventful start to life. Tell us where it all began?

We opened the day before the very first lockdown was announced! We were originally a coffee shop, so we quickly took all the seating out and became grab and go. We were constantly having to adapt and change the business, virtually overnight, just to survive. My idea of having a quiet little café, where I could read a book in a comfy chair, never really came to fruition!

While it must have been difficult, did the business benefit from lockdown?

Obviously, it was a really tough time for everyone, and if we’d not changed our business overnight, we might have gone under before we’d even started; but it did help us in a way. I’ve got photographs from lockdown of queues going almost down to where the tram stop is. We built up really good relationships with customers and that really stuck; they often feel like family to us. 

Why did you pick Hillsborough to begin with?

I’m born and bred in Hillsborough and my other half, Pete, is from Poland. I think we have the best of both worlds. We’ve got Pete’s Polish culinary skills, plus my knowledge of Sheffield being a broad Yorkshire girl! Lots of people told us not to open this end of Hillsborough because it’s quiet, but you’ve got to go with your gut instinct. Look at it now, with all the businesses around here.

Would you say you’ve been the catalyst for this area of Hillsborough’s resurgence?

Well, we were the first of the new places to open at this end. Then Orange Bird opened, then Pango and Annie Jude’s, and it’s gone on and on. 

How does it feel to be part of such a strong collection of businesses?

It’s lovely. It means so much to us. It does feel like a community vibe. I know, if we’re struggling, or a member of staff down, I can run over and say, ‘Any chance you could just come watch the shop for two minutes?’ – and it works both ways.

How has Hillsborough changed in recent years?

When I was little, I remember the wet fish shop, the greengrocers and little independents. It was always really, really busy. Over the last decade it seemed to recede a little. Then, with people working from home more, they saw that there are things in their local area. I hope it can continue. I don’t think you should be scared of competition; you should embrace it and work together. 



Give us the lowdown on your business?

We’re a shop in the heart of Hillsborough that sell a wide range of products to cover everybody’s gifting needs. All the stock is either handmade or small business with loads of it actually being made locally, which is absolutely amazing. 

How long have you been open? 

We’re just coming up to the 18 months mark.

Why did you decide to open your shop?

After Covid, I think everybody was in a place where they wanted to get back out and shop again. I’d spent a lot of that time interacting with other small businesses on social media, who made absolutely beautiful things in their kitchens and living rooms. After unexpectedly coming into some money, following the loss of my mum, I thought why not do something positive with that, like other people had done with their time during Covid. It’s grown from there.

Why did you choose Hillsborough? 

I live in Hillsborough, and I absolutely love Hillsborough. I’ve been here for over ten years now. It’s just such a nice place for families. There are wonderful schools, wonderful parks and the people in Hillsborough are absolutely fantastic. 

Do you think Hillsborough has changed in recent years?

I think Hillsborough has changed in the last ten years so much, but also not at all! Hillsborough has always been a street full of independent shops. You’ve always had your butchers, your bakers, your cobblers and everything like that. I think it’s just growing to include more and more of the things that people want now. You can go down Hillsborough and get almost everything you need. 

What excites you about the new crop of businesses in S6?

They’re all very passionate, which is really important, and they all love Hillsborough. Everybody really wants it to be a success. 



Tell us about Pangolin.

We’re a craft beer bottle shop and bar. We serve draught and packaged beer alongside a selection of natural wines, a few little cocktails and some mega quality cider as well. 

When did you we open?

We opened in April 2021, so we’ve just had our second birthday.

Happy birthday! How have the last couple of years been?

Absolutely fantastic, to be quite honest! Way in excess of anything we predicted. 

Why do you think that is?

Weird as it sounds, opening straight out of Covid kind of gave us a boost. I know it sounds kind of strange, given that it was a very, very scary time for a lot of people; but because people had been locked down, they were really ready to get back out. Also, people who had previously been living in Hillsborough but commuting elsewhere, they were suddenly using what was around them and became more aware of what was here.

Is that one of the reasons you chose to set up in Hillsborough?

Yes, but I’ve lived here for just over ten years now, so I knew the area well. I’d been working up at Walkley Beer Co for about five years and over time more people living in Hillsborough were coming up the hill to use us, so I knew there’d be an audience here. You want your local area to succeed, so I wanted to try and bring something to Hillsborough that people would want.

How does it feel to be part of Hillsborough’s recent resurgence as a destination?

It’s brilliant to be a part of Hillsborough’s business community. It boosts everybody, because you have customers that will use all the different businesses. You’re not so much in competition as the bigger the customer base is, the more custom there is for all of us. It’s a really great area to be in at the moment.



Tell us about your business?

We’re a low-waste refill store. We provide a service for people to bring their own reusable containers and fill up on food, cupboard essentials and cleaning products. We also offer some reusable household alternatives to plastic-based products.

Why did you choose Hillsborough to open the shop?

Firstly, we live in Hillsborough and we selfishly wanted a refill store on our own doorstep. What we’re trying to do is provide accessible and affordable low-waste living to people and, of course, one of the first things that is required to do that is to make it close to people. Hillsborough was missing a shop like this.

How long have you lived in Hillsborough?

I moved over to the UK from South Africa over six and a half years ago. We originally lived on the other side of the Peaks, just south of Manchester, but then we moved to Sheffield and fell in love with the city. Then we moved to Hillsborough and fell even more in love! That was 2020, actually mid-pandemic.

You must have seen the area change quite a bit in that time. What do you put that down to?

People come in here all the time and say Hillsborough is changing so fast. In fact, someone was saying this morning that it’s great to be able to come down to the High Street and do your refill shopping, your butchery shopping, your grocery shopping, and then get a good cuppa. I think that Sheffield is growing in popularity generally, and a lot of the other neighbourhoods that used to be the more sought-after ones are becoming unaffordable, and people are being driven towards areas like Hillsborough. That’s great!

How does it feel to be part of the burgeoning community of new businesses here?

It feels really exciting. Everyone is just really lovely and supportive. That’s in terms of the customers, but also the other business owners. Everybody shares tips and helps out when you’re in a pinch, so that’s been really lovely. We feel a lot of pride to be in this area.



Tell us a little about Antler and what you do? 

We’re a Persian restaurant, made up of a small team of passionate people focused on delivering great service and unique flavours. We cook the food of my childhood, from my home country of Iran. This not only allows me to introduce people to Persian cuisine, paying homage to those traditions, but also brings back a lot of treasured memories for me. Antler is my home away from home and I’ve dreamt of opening this place for a long time.

How has the restaurant been received since opening last year?

We serve honest food that truly comes from our hearts and we feel that people really appreciate that. We don’t fake anything, and we are very proud to preserve the original flavours of Iran. It brings us a lot of joy to see that customers are genuinely curious about the original Persian ingredients we use, and the traditions we try to showcase, such as Persian New Year that we celebrated last month.

Why did you choose to open in Hillsborough?

As locals ourselves, we chose to open here because we felt that this area had huge potential, and we saw a few other great places opening here around the same time. We felt that we could be a good addition to S6 by offering something different. We are happy to see other amazing businesses opening here, bringing more and more colour to Hillsborough. We can’t wait to see more. 

Why do you think so many new businesses are beginning to thrive in Hillsborough?

It was about time to do something and a lot of people felt the same way! The Hillsborough community here is extremely supportive, which makes is easier to succeed and take that first step and start a business here.


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