The Vurger Co – one of the last fully vegan spots standing in Manchester – has announced its sudden closure.
The national restaurant brand arrived here in Manchester in the spring of 2022, serving up its established menu of plant-based burgers, shakes and sides.
The Vurger Co took on a pretty prominent site in Manchester city centre, putting down roots on the ground floor of a new building on the corner of Tib Street.
The restaurant did a pretty good job of impersonating a normal burger joint with its meatless patties, fake bacon, and plant-based fried chicken.
Highlights on the menu included its buffalo ‘chicken’ burger, its loaded chicken and waffle tater tots, and its delicious vegan milkshakes.
The eight-year-old business said it has spent 50% of its time in the trade ‘in total turmoil’, faced with ‘unfathomable’ turmoil from the pandemic to the economic crisis.
They wrote in a detailed statement, signed by co-founders Rachel Hugh and Neil Potts, that they were ‘flying’ until March 2020, when they were struck with ‘infuriating government policy’ and ‘indescribable suffering’.
The Vurger Co said: “To say that the industry is in crisis doesn’t even come close right now.”
Their statement also touched on the current news stories around the ‘death of veganism’, which has no doubt been fuelled by several closures of other plant-based restaurants (Manchester alone has lost V Rev, Zad’s takeaway, and Frosts Burgers).
As well as opening restaurants across the UK, The Vurger Co had its sauces in supermarkets, launched a recipe book, and even served Billie Eilish twice.
Their statement continued: “We have grafted every single day, to ensure people were employed, paid and our communities were served. We’ve given it absolutely everything we’ve got, in all possible ways, and we are extremely proud. We won’t ever let anything take away from the magic of the journey of the last 8 years.”
The Vurger Co signed off by urging people to support their local vegan business, and called on the Government to lower VAT and take other measures to help the hospitality industry.
When we began, we truly didn’t have a playbook, we had no competitor to replicate, no other small vegan restaurant business to ask about crowdfunding, no one to ask about how to scale a vegan restaurant brand – and everything in between. Throw in a global pandemic into the mix and we’ve basically lived 50% of the 8 years in total turmoil. The amount of adversity we have had to overcome year on year is unfathomable, I couldn’t even begin to describe.
We set out to create an awesome burger restaurant that welcomed everyone, with a goal of being mainstream and providing the most incredible working environment. Until March 2020, we were flying! From 2016, we were amongst the brands helping to generate early momentum in this space. We had opened two restaurants in less than a year, and were scheduled to open our third, in Brighton, in March 2020, but the universe had other plans.
Like every other hospitality brand, we muddled through the pandemic as best we possibly could. We prioritised our staff and their wellbeing to the max. We battled through infuriating government policy. Like everybody else in our industry, the suffering was indescribable, leaving us as business operators, and our teams, stressed, exhausted, and desperately hoping things could return to some sort of normality.
However the last couple of years have seen seemingly endless domestic and international crises in the world, which have all created truly a perfect storm for hospitality. Soaring costs due to international and domestic inflationary factors, plunging sales due to customers’ spending power being dramatically reduced, and the complete absence of investor confidence in the sector all of a sudden. To say that the industry is in crisis doesn’t even come close right now.
Then combined with the most recent anti-vegan misinformation charting ‘the death of veganism’ and ‘the end of the trend’ etc. The result is that it has completely unjustifiably, incorrectly and needlessly hammered consumer confidence.
Our incredible customers that are so loyal, passionate, and incredibly supportive.
From our very first market stall in the summer of 2016, through to pop ups, events, multiple restaurants, meal kits in the pandemic, mayos in supermarkets around the world, your support has meant the absolute world to us. We’ve had the most wonderful time serving you all, and providing you all with a space to enjoy great hospitality. Throughout all of it, you’ve shown up, and kept showing up and kept shouting about us, and helped us win so many awards over the years. Every comment, review, referral, every tip you’ve given our wonderful staff, every burger you’ve purchased – every single thing matters so much to us, and we’re incredibly grateful for your loyal support for so many years.
From absolutely nothing but an idea in 2016, we opened 4 stores and a whole production site, we got our sauces into Ocado, Whole Foods, Co-op, stores in LA, NYC and Dubai, we launched our recipe book with the most amazing publisher, our brand served hundreds of thousands of burgers to people up and down the country and yes we even served Billie Eillish and family not once but twice! Proud of what we achieved would be an understatement.
On a personal level for us, it has been the most incredible emotional rollercoaster. Building this brand for the last 8 years has been a real privilege. We’ve done nothing else, thought about nothing else, and worked on nothing else, but The Vurger Co, for 8 years. We have grafted every single day, to ensure people were employed, paid and our communities were served. We’ve given it absolutely everything we’ve got, in all possible ways, and we are extremely proud. We won’t ever let anything take away from the magic of the journey of the last 8 years.
It only seems right to finish with our wishes for the industry….
Please support your favourite vegan business! Even if you aren’t able to afford spending with them right now, remember, a like on social media, a positive google review, a nice comment, speaking positively about them to others or a recommendation are all free and could make all the difference too. Less hatred towards vegan businesses who are doing their utmost and more love is needed!
Government to WAKE UP – Lower VAT, Hospitality business rates reform, Reduction in National Insurance Contributions, Energy support – it’s all needed and all needed right now so desperately.
We’re here for anybody who wants advice or support, whatever we can do to help keep the overall vegan train on the track, we’ll be doing from here forwards. Sending all our love to our fellow vegan restauranteurs, you’re amazing.
All our love, Rachel and Neil.
Featured image: The Manc Group
People with an extremely rare birthday can get free pints in Manchester next week
People who are unfortunate – or this case, fortunate – enough to have the rarest birthday of them all can grab a free pint in Manchester next week.
You guessed it – Leap Day babies, this one’s for you.
It’s estimated that only around 4.1 million people worldwide were born on 29 February – which, of course, is also known as a Leap Day birthday – and if you just so happen to be one of those people here in Manchester, then you’ll probably want to get yourself down to Society next week to celebrate.
That’s because the popular street food hall and social hub in the heart of the city centre is commemorating the special day that only comes around every four years by giving away free pints next Thursday.
The catch, however, is that you have to have been born on 29 February to claim the freebie.
People with an extremely rare birthday can get free pints in Manchester next week / Credit: Society MCR
Society is known for having one of the city’s biggest craft beer collections, and will be handing out glasses of its house Vocation Pure Pilsner to all Leap Day babies who’ve missed out on years of birthday benefits.
So-called ‘leapers’ wanting to claim their complimentary cold one must be able to verify their birthday with a valid ID at the Society bar.
The deal will run all day from the moment Society opens until it closes… but, for one day only.
‘Leap Day’ babies need to head on down to Society to claim their complementary cold one / Credit: Vocation Manchester
If you’re the type to want to mark your birthday in a more lowkey way, then Society is an ideal place to head on down to.
Its relaxed dining and drinking set-up – with the ability to order food from five independent kitchens, and pick a pint from one of Vocation Brewery‘s 36 ever-changing tap beers from the comfort of your own table – makes it a great destination to celebrate your special day with groups either big or small.