There’s no denying it, times are tough for small businesses right now. You might want to close your eyes and pretend it’s not happening, and we wouldn’t blame you. It’s all getting a bit, well, depressing.
To be only halfway through January and already have a host of Manchester businesses, some of which have been fixtures in the city for decades, closing their doors for good is an emotional thing.
Between rising energy bills and ingredients costs, staff shortages, and a lack of government support, not to mention a rapid squeeze on the consumer’s purse, frankly, we’re amazed how many are still hanging on in there.
For now, though, we’re taking a moment to look back at what Manchester has lost this year – and pray that we don’t have to see too many more closures in 2023.
Probably the biggest shock of them all so far this year is the news that family-run institution Cafe Metro has shut its doors for good after 40 years of feeding the people of Manchester.
Despite the fact that the cafe has been a part of the fabric of the city centre for decades, owners explained in a heartfelt goodbye message that their hands had been forced to close due to pressure from developers.
Writing that it was with ‘regret and great sadness’ that they were closing their much-loved cafe, they went on to explain that they had come to the end of their lease and ‘the landlord’s plans to redevelop means that we can’t stay’.
The post also added that they had looked to relocate but had not been able to ‘find premises that come close to enabling us to offer our customers the same service and pricing.’
Sharing the news in a post on social media, co-owners Yaw Djang and Nicola revealed they will instead run Oklahoma as an online-only shop.
Writing that the last three years ‘have been ones of upheaval and change’, the announcement said that Covid brought both ‘problems and opportunities’ – giving the team time to focus on expanding Oklahoma’s online offering and to explore ‘new creative focus and ideas.’
It added that, as a result of improving their online offering during lockdown, they were able to ‘reach lots of new customers all over the UK and abroad’ and ever since have been ‘juggling two businesses’.
One of Manchester’s most tempting plant stalls, Flourish, revealed that it would be shutting up shop on Tib Street for good this January – meaning there’ll be no more lunchtime trips to gaze at satin pothos, fiddle leaf figs, and bushy monsteras.
Shutting up shop for good with its final trading day on Saturday 21 January, the store will close for good after eight years of trading in this particular part of town.
The store has closed because its current home the Rylands Building is about to be redeveloped and building work is due to start soon.
Explaining that “the Eight years we have been on Tib street have been amazing and it has without doubt been the foundation to where we are today,” owners reassured fans that their Deansgate Square stall will continue as usual and a new online-ordering concept will launch in the near future.
As Manchester’s first (and, as far as we know, only) Scottish-Indian fusion restaurant concept, Roti is nothing but a trailblazer: introducing us to haggis pakoras, masala fish and Indian-spiced Scotch Eggs.
Its cheese and onion bhajis, mince and tatties, and curried aloo and chickpea-filled roti ‘chip butty all made it so popular with Chorltonites during lockdown that it opened a second site over in Sale’s burgeoning foodie neighbourhood at Stanley Square.
But this month, owners revealed that they would be closing the doors to their original site – stepping down from two restaurants to just one.
Adding that Chorlton is a ‘special place’, they hinted that they could be back in the future: writing they will be focusing on their Sale restaurant for now and hope to open a new site ‘when the time is right.’
No. 1 Canal Street was named Manchester’s best restaurant at the 2019 British Restaurant Awards, but even an accolade such as that couldn’t save it from shutting its doors this year.
Owners of No. 1 Canal Street Lisa Kettle and Danielle Condron, who also run a pub called The Bridge in Sale, revealed they would be closing both venues in a heartfelt message shared on social media at the beginning of January.
The pair said it was a ‘very hard decision’ and implied that it was ‘difficult times’ that had spurred them to make the call to close both businesses.
Manchester institution Font, home of the £1 cocktail and responsible for many a student hangover, was another legendary spot to announce its closure in 2023.
It all came about very suddenly, with the announcement made only the day before the venue shut its doors for good. That didn’t stop fans flocking down for one last hurrah in its honour, though.
Initially, Font had two bars in Manchester: one in Fallowfield and a second in the city centre. Having already closed its Fallowfield site some years ago, its New Wakefield St site was the last man standing – and now even that has gone. A very sad state of affairs indeed.
Any Manchester street food stans will be familiar with Yakumama, the Latin American concept that first began its life on Manchester’s street food scene before upping sticks to open its first restaurant over the border in Calderdale in 2019.
This month, owners broke the news that their time at the old Co-Op building would be coming to a close at the end of January – leading the restaurant to be overwhelmed with bookings, receiving more than 100 in just 10 minutes.
Championed by the Manchester tastemakers like GRUB and Pollen from the start, the all-vegan and veggie concept made quite a mark on the city’s street food scene between 2015 and 2019 – popping up at locations across the city, as well as selling spicy-sweet homemade Aleppo hot sauce at a number of different independents.
Now owners are planning on taking some time out to regroup,saying they’d ‘worked hard to get over the hurdles’ but the ’emotional and financial input […] just isn’t in us right now, and we need to prioritise our health and a more balanced life.’
It has now shut its doors, but it appears this won’t be the last we see of the bar. Writing that it was only ‘bye for now’, the team explained on its Instagram page that Alvarium ‘will be shutting its doors for January and February to have a little refurb and carry out some essential maintenance in the upcoming quieter months.’
The post continued: “We just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past year, we’re excited for you to see the concept we return with. See you soon!”
Award-winning gastro pub The Moorcock isn’t technically in Greater Manchester, but it’s close enough (and esteemed enough) to be worth a mention here.
Despite huge acclaim from critics, the team announced last year that they wouldn’t be renewing their lease – and now that final service deadline is quickly approaching.
In a heartbreaking announcement revealed to newsletter subscribers in 2022, owners wrote: “In honesty, we have barely caught our breath from the last two years, and now costs in every area spiral, recession looms, there is the prospect of supply issues, the world is an unstable place right now.
“Frankly, it’s just no time to be running a small business like ours.”
In November, Tom Kerridge and Gary Neville agreed to part ways with their acclaimed restaurant, The Bull & Bear, situated for the past three years on the ground floor of the grand Stock Exchange Hotel on Norfolk Street.
Michelin-starred chef Kerridge insisted that ‘there is no falling out’ while giving the former Manchester United legend a friendly shake on the shoulders in a video released to social media.
The duo aaid that the restaurant isn’t operating as a seven-day business, but the Stock Exchange Hotel is – and so The Bull & Bear will ‘be no more’, closing the site for good on New Year’s Day 2023.
Following the announcement, the pair were ‘blown away’ with kind messages of support from those who’d visited the restaurant over the years. It has since been announced that the Schofield brothers will take over the restaurant space this spring.
A part of Mackie Mayor’s fabric ever since it first opened its doors in 2017, Atkinson’s Coffee revealed that it would no longer be trading there – instead, owners will be returning to their hometown of Lancaster.
Sharing the news in a post on Instagram, the Atkinsons Coffee team said: “Today we bring you the sad news that we have made the tough decision to close our Manchester café at the Mackie Mayor.
“We would like to thank all our customers who have supported us over the years and amazing baristas who have all done us proud in what has been Atkinsons first venture outside of Lancaster in 180 years.”
Feature image – Flourish
Food & Drink
First look inside Gordon Ramsay’s new Manchester restaurant Lucky Cat
This week, Gordon Ramsay opens his Asian-inspired restaurant on Manchester’s King Street – moving into the stunning old Art Deco bank that once housed Jamie’s Italian.
Spanning three floors with opulent private dining vaults in its basement, the new Manchester location promises to be a dining experience like no other with jaw-dropping decor to match.
Capturing the essence of the original Mayfair eatery in the very heart of the city in a truly iconic building, the restaurant is only the second Lucky Cat to open worldwide – cementing Manchester’s reputation as a leading destination for food, drink, and entertainment.
Taking over the former bank, Lucky Cat Manchester pays homage to the building’s heritage by embracing its gorgeous period features while offering locals a ‘brand new’ dining experience.
With wood panneled private bars and dining spaces tucked away for special events, Lucky Cat’s menu fuses the vibrant atmosphere of 1930s Tokyo jazz kissas and drinking dens with a world-class dining experience.
Promising fine wines and cocktails, live DJs and a real party atmosphere, it is already a destination on the London scene – and now it looks set to achieve the same reputation here in Manchester.
The new Manchester location hopes to immerse guests in the extraordinary culinary narrative from Gordon Ramsay and Lucky Cat Executive Head Chef Andre Camilo, who have crafted each dish with sharing and excellence in mind.
Diners are invited to ’embark on a gastronomic journey of culinary icons’, digging into the likes of sublime black cod, sumptuous sirloin weeping tiger and the legendary Lucky Cat Duck Bao.
The team has taken the very best of its Mayfair menu heroes and added some new dishes to offer ‘a dining experience like no other’, encouraging guests to ‘journey onward to the ocean’s depths’ with sublime sushi and raw dishes, from sumptuous tuna tartar to mouth-watering dragon rolls.
An innovative cocktail list, meanwhile, includes the one-of-a-kind Lucky Negroni, where the gin in your drink is determined by a captivating game of chance.
With three dice hidden inside a mysterious box, the numbers rolled will unlock the perfect combination of gins, vermouths, and bitters destined for your drink. With a staggering 216 possible combinations, your Lucky Negroni is a personalised, exhilarating experience, crafted by fate itself.
Speaking on the new opening, the celebrity chef said: “Lucky Cat is more than just a restaurant; it’s an extraordinary encounter. We’re ready to dazzle Manchester’s vibrant culinary scene with a gastronomic spectacle that will leave you craving more!”
The full menu can be viewed on the website here, promising an array of delights to stir your culinary curiosity.
Featured image – Supplied
Food & Drink
The new restaurants and bars opening in Manchester this month | June 2023
The summer is here, al fresco dining is on the cards, and it seems like the suburbs are having a moment again.
Urmston has not one but two exciting new openings to shout about, whilst Withington has just welcomed Almost Famous into its neighbourhood as Manchester’s original dirty burger bar takes over the short-lived Libertine site.
Elsewhere, Gordon Ramsay moves into town with his Lucky Cat restaurant moving into the former Jamie’s Italian site at the top of King Street.
Simply put, there’s a lot to get excited about this month – and we’re only scratching the surface.
Keep reading to discover where to put on your list this June.
Restaurant Orme, Urmston
An affordable tasting menu restaurant inspired by the British seasons with a nod to Mancunian charm, this new eatery opened on Urmston’s Church Road at the end of May.
Serving up a 6 course tasting menu, there is the option to add extra courses and wine pairings on top – with some charming British wines on offer that have been hand-selected by the team.
A very welcome addition to Urmston, there’s a focus on seasonality and sustainability – enhancing humble British produce by preserving, pickling and fermenting throughout the year.
Prices start from £45 for the tasting menu, and £50 for the wine pairing.
Ciaooo Loaded Garlic Bread
For lovers of garlic bread, this new restaurant is a dream come true. Brought to Shudehill by the team behind Swan Street’s fluffiest pizza, diners can choose from seven different styles of classic, cheesy and loaded garlic breads – all priced from £5.
Available in 10″ sizes, the offering here is geared towards the lunch rush with opening hours from 12-6pm daily.
Elsewhere, you’ll also find hot slices of Ciaooo’s famous deep-fried lasagne, milkshakes, 10″ pizzettes and more.
Manchester’s original dirty burger spot Almost Famous has officially moved to the suburbs, taking over Cottonopolis’s short-lived Libertine pub and transforming it into one of their signature burger joints.
Open now, on the menu you’ll find it serving up its ever-popular combination of loaded burgers, flaming cocktails and winning fries.
Offering a ‘neighbourhood friendly vibe’ with movie and quiz nights, the new site also boasts its own special burger ‘The Southside ’, which is exclusive to the Withington branch.
The latest offering from the team behind Northern Quarter institue Evelyn’s, new bar Public will open on Stevenson Square this month.
Sandwiched inbetween The Quarter House and the square’s new ice cream parlour, Sweet, it will serve up cocktails designed by the team behind its underground cocktail bar The Daisy alongside plenty of pints for sun-soaked days.
A selection of small bites, noodles and sandos will also be on offer, inspired by the Lower East Side’s late night bars and the bustling energy of NYC’s Chinatown.
Monkey Trio, Circle Square
A new sake and Japanese whiskey bar at Circle Square, Monkey Trio has been hotly anticipated with its opening on the cards for nearly a year now.
This month looks set to finally be the one it opens, serving up offer drinkers a range of different Japanese sake styles, as well as various Japanese-made whiskies and craft matcha beers.
Bar Etna, Altrincham
A new addition to Altrincham’s ever-growing foodie scene, this bistro and deli is already becoming a hit with locals.
There’s a counter bursting with Sicilian meats and cheeses, plus a menu boasting everything from arancini and lasagne to sweet treats like cannoli, pistachio torte and more.
Find everything you want at Bar Etna and more. – ranging from fine wines and limoncello to Italian biscuits, cakes and more
Desert Island Dumplings, Northern Quarter
Desert Island Dumplings has newly opened on the top floor of Affleck’s serving up vegan dumplings with non-traditional settings, surrounded by The Simpson’s memorabilia.
There are a bunch of Simpson’s-themed menu items, ranging from steamed hams to an array of combo boxes inspired by different characters in the show including ‘The Lisa’s Lunch Special’. ‘The Homer’s home Early Mega Box’, ‘The It’s All Coming Up Millhouse Special’ and ‘The moe Syzslak Mystery Mega Box.’
As for drinks, these are limited to soft drinks with favourites like Ribena and Coke available alongside delicious Columbian filter coffee, various teas and mugs of hot chocolate.
This month sees London bakery Gail’s continue its expansion into the north with its second Manchester cafe on King Street.
The new bakery will serve Gail’s artisan sourdough breads, pastries, sandwiches, and cakes alongside its speciality House Blend coffee, which changes four times a year with the seasons.
An outside terrace on the historic shopping street will give fans the option to enjoy a spot of al fresco drinking and dining, whilst a lower floor space offers the chance to host local events and gatherings.
The second site from Sale’s hit Indian Fusion restaurant Roti is opening in Urmston, suggesting that the town is really on its way up with not one but two inclusions in this month’s list.
The team had to close its original Chorlton restaurant at the start of the year, but promised something new would be coming – and now, finally, we know where.
Head down from 12 June to find all of the restaurant’s classic fusion dishes, ranging from Irn Bru negronis to haggis pakoras, burgers and masala fish and chips.
Not new but rather recently reopened under new management, this popular suntrap spot welcomes a new owner and a new chef in the kitchen.
Having poached a chef from nearby Porta, head down this summer to soak up some rays and enjoy some gorgeous views of the water as you tuck into some tasty tapas dishes.
Opened inside the former Doctor Feelgood site by its former manager Aaron Davies, Amp takes over a legendary spot close to Stockport’s historic market with renewed enthusiasm.
With a host of gigs lined up for the summer and plenty of beers on tap, plus a terrace overlooking one of Stockport’s prettiest parts, it’s definitely worth a visit. If you’re really lucky, time it to see the house band – Creme Brulee (yes, really).
This new taco joint will bring the spirit of Mexico City to Manchester when it opens at Kampus this May.
With a menu made up of mouth-watering tacos, wood-grilled seafood and steaks, plus fresh oysters and ceviche straight from a huge ice counter, and a drinks list celebrating agave, this is a new opening you don’t want to miss.
Evolving from a lunch spot to a buzzing bar with Mexican party vibes as the sun goes down, expect a destination that celebrates Mexico City’s cuisine, culture and personality in equal measure.