Everybody knows The Font. It’s been part of the fabric of Manchester’s bar scene for more than 20 years, famed for its insanely affordable cocktails.
All these years on, you can still get a cocktail here for £1 – admittedly, only during Happy Hour, though even outside that deal you’re only looking at £3 a drink.
When the New Wakefield Street venue first opened in 2000, its niche wasn’t much of a niche at all – it was a cheap watering hole with colourful walls where students would grab a vodka and coke before heading on to the clubs.
But over the years, and with the input of all the faces who’ve worked behind the bar since, its identity evolved into something clearer.
The Font has been loved by generations of students – and beyond – for its cocktail menu, full of candy floss garnishes, sweet toppings, and ice cream cones.
Its creative menu currently includes jelly shots topped with edible photos of Andy Burnham, a honey-inspired cocktail made with cereal flavoured milk, and a ‘Unicorn Juice’ topped with a twisted edible unicorn horn.
The Font is unusual in many ways, one of which is the amount of time it’s hung on in Manchester for while other bars – including its long-lost neighbour Sound Control – crumbled.
Dan Rinaldi, general manager, has worked here for 15 years and remembers a very different city.
“The bar scene in Manchester was loads smaller,” he says. “The Northern Quarter was maybe just Common, Trof had literally just opened, and maybe Odd? The Ancoats of now didn’t exist. The scene was so limited in some ways.”
So what exactly has given The Font the legs to keep going, even in the tumultuous times the hospitality industry has faced in recent years?
It’s a combination of authenticity, value, fun, and family atmosphere, Dan says.
“It’s all fun, it’s all about fun, we’re definitely not a serious place.
“We encourage everyone to feel at home here, you can do what you want, come as you are and join in, as long as you’re not causing hassle for anyone else. It’s a safe place.
“One thing we’re very proud of is that if you meet anyone who’s been a student in Manchester any time in the last 20 years, they’ll know us. Everyone knows The Font.
“It’s the perfect starting point to people’s night out, and we get to see everyone at the start of their night when they’re all excited and get them ready to go. That’s our favourite thing.”
Another remarkable thing about The Font is that their cocktails have only gone up £1 in the 22 years they’ve been open – something Dan admits is ‘difficult’ to maintain.
He says: “We got really nervous when we put our prices up 50p a few years ago and we were really worried, but most people were like ‘What? That’s still so cheap don’t worry about it’.
“In the current climate we still want to be the place where you can get good value, and we still feel like we can do that well enough, especially with happy hours.”
He continues: “The cocktails, and that’s really what everyone knows us for, were only actually introduced about four or five years after we opened, and the idea came from the staff basically. They decided they wanted to make some cocktails and give it a go, and it all evolved from there.
“Our owner is very good at letting whoever is working here come up with ideas and push them forward – he’s an owner that gives us the chance to express our ideas and influence, and what we pick up from other bars and cities.
“We can really express ourselves through what we sell and what we do and how we decorate the place and even the music that gets played.”
Part of the magic of The Font is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously – and for those who are new to cocktails, it’s the most fun possible introduction.
Looking back on the history of The Font and its many, many years in the city, Dan has a few fond memories.
He says: “Way back there used to be a street festival on new Wakefield street called Eurocultured, it ran for quite a few years.
“The street was closed and there was a big stage under the arches near Gorilla, and we’d have bands and DJs on in here, a lot of the artwork on the street is left from the last one of those. It was chaos on the street and chaos in here and it was just so fun.
“One of our proudest moments was our recovery from Covid – we had outside seating for the first time and it was packed, straight away, and it felt so good to come back from that.
“And all our staff were brilliant and stuck with us through furlough and all that and they all came back, all of them. We managed to keep everyone together which is crazy. It was a very proud moment.”
In the coming weeks, The Font will welcome the next generation of freshers and students, all getting their cocktail crash course.
You can bet they’ll never forget this place.
Featured Image – The Manc Group
One Plus Chinese restaurant crowned best in Manchester for third year running
A Chinese restaurant in Manchester has just been crowned the city’s best for the third year running.
One Plus in Manchester city centre revealed on Wednesday that it had taken home the gong for the Best Chinese Restaurant in Manhester at the Restaurant Guru awards for the third year in a row.
Sharing a picture of its award on social media, the restaurant wrote: “Thanks for this award. That’s 3 on the bounce taking this award for 2020, 2021 and now 2022.”
Commenting on having completed an award-winning hattrick in the ever-challenging post-Covid restaurant climate, the team continued, adding: “It’s not been easy and I don’t see it getting any easier but it’s nice to be recognised again.”
The Charles Street restaurant has won numerous awards since opening in the city in 2018, first drawing people in with the opportunity to cook their own hot pot dishes from a conveyor belt of different options.
Today, people go just as much for its excellent hot pot as they do for One Plus’s hand-stretched noodles, Chinese BBQ and rice dishes.
Split across three levels, the restaurant offers something different from other Chinese eateries in Manchester with a rice and noodle bar in its basement, authentic Chinese BBQ and an a la carte seafood menu on the first floor, and Chinese hot pot on the ground floor.
As part of the Chinese BBQ experience, diners can keep their food hot or charred towards their preference via their own personal coal pit on their table.
Elsewhere, the hot pot dining experience offers individual broths with food delivered from a ‘sushi style’ conveyor belt, so whatever catches your eyes, pop this into your tasty broth and eat when ready.
To find out more and book a table at One Plus, visit the restaurant’s website here.
Feature image – One Plus
Signs say ‘Instagrammable’ Manchester restaurant Boujee is closed for good
Less than two months after Boujee closed its site in Liverpool, signs have appeared outside the Manchester site showing that it has also suffered the same fate.
A handwritten note simply reading “closed, so sorry” has been taped to the all-pink restaurant and bar’s front door, whilst a second on the restaurant’s terrace, which had been taken over by pop-up venue Carnival, read: ‘we are extremely sorry but due to unforeseen circumstances we are left with no other options to close the venue.”
On the Boujee website, all traces of the Manchester venue have now been removed with just the Chester site now available to book online.
The news should not come as a surprise, given that the restaurant has appeared to be struggling for several months now.
Earlier this summer, staff walked out of the Liverpool site complaining of unpaid wages and tips. At the time, workers said that they had received just 40% of their expected wages on recent paydays and claimed that management had withheld their table service charges for months.
The pay dispute was reported in the Liverpool Echo, after staff told the paper some colleagues had walked out of shifts over the situation and that others were struggling to meet their rent and mortgage payments.
A company message was shared with Boujee’s staff at the end of June in an attempt to explain to workers why they had not received their full pay.
It said: “It is with huge regret and disappointment that we are not able to pay the wages in their entirety today. We have exhausted every avenue and it is at the point where we require the revenue from this weekend and next in order to catch up and make the payments in full.
“Today we will be making a payment to all employees of 40 per cent of their total wage. On Monday we will make a second payment and this will be 30 per cent of their total wage plus 50 per cent of the service charge for the month.
“The following Monday we will pay the remaining 30 per cent and the remaining 50 per cent of the service charge.
“We are extremely sorry that it has come to this and I assure you we are doing all we can to get back on track and our team are vital in this path to recovery. We fully appreciate this is not acceptable and we thank you for your hard work, support and loyalty through what has been a very challenging time.”
Now, it appears that the business has had another setback as it has moved to close its Manchester site too.
The news follows an announcement from the former director and Real Housewive Of Cheshire star Lystra Adams who revealed last month that she had walked away from the business.
In a post on Instagram, Lystra wrote: “I’m walking away … As of yesterday 23/09/2022 I walked away from what I’ve know and loved for past near two years. As many of you may know I have given considerable time and dedication in building the brand and platform for myself.
“Over the past eight months things had taken a bumpy turn. I had confidence in that the board of directors would turn it around. Unfortunately mistakes were made along the way […] and it made the comeback near impossible.”
She continued: “As a 20-per-cent shareholder and the face of the business I want you to know that I did what I could with what I had. […] I’ve made my voice heard more than before as I dreaded this day would come. I’ve taken abuse in all forms for being the face of the companies involved as well as my daughter and enough is enough.
“Sorry it’s taken so long to speak out and I want to thank each and everyone that has visited or worked for Boujee and carnival from opening until now. All my love, Lystra.”