Food & Drink
The biggest Manchester restaurant and bar closures of 2023
From novelty waffles to star-studded high-end restaurants, we lost a lot of local businesses in 2023.
There have, sadly, been a wave of high-profile restaurant closures across Greater Manchester again this year.
From long-standing nightclubs to high-end celeb favourites, from Northern Quarter OGs to novelties that lasted mere months, we’ve seen a lot of places close their doors forever.
We’ve lost breweries, bars, and bistros, street food enterprises and proper caffs.
And who could forget that brief moment we had a takeaway dedicated to d*ck-shaped waffles?…
Here are the biggest Manchester restaurant and bar closures that hit in 2023.
The Stock Market Grill – Stock Exchange Hotel
It was located in the incredibly grand central room of the historic Stock Exchange Hotel. It was owned by Gary Neville and hotelier Winston Zahra. And the brothers behind Schofields and Sterling – widely accepted to be some of the best in the hospitality industry – were left in charge of operations.
But no amount of fancy credentials could make the Stock Market Grill stick, and it shut its doors after a mere three months…
The restaurant had previously been operated by Tom Kerridge, which was one of the most high-profile closures of 2022.
The space is now just used for hotel guests and events.
Cocktail Beer Ramen and Bun (CBRB) – Northern Quarter
We’re still grieving the loss of CBRB to be honest, that trendy little spot on Oldham Street that served arguably the best ramen in the entire city.
In a properly heart-wrenching statement, the late-night eatery outlined the ‘massive financial strain’ it had been facing, describing the obstacles that are ‘affecting everyone in the hospitality industry right now’.
They said: “It breaks our heart to have to make this decision and please know, it has not come lightly or without months of deliberation, meetings and rescue plans. Countless discussions about a way out of the sh*t that wouldn’t end up coming to this.
“So for now we just want to thank you. For making this tiny little kitchen and bar become something way bigger than we ever imagined. For making coming to work the last 4 years so much fun. For all the lovely messages, the constant support, for bringing your friends and sharing the love for the food we create.”
Hatch – Oxford Road
This was one of those closures that had the entire city talking, affecting dozens of local businesses in one fell swoop.
Hatch was a village of colourful shipping containers built beneath the Mancunian Way, filled with independent shops, bars and street food outlets.
The news broke that it would be closing with just 30 days’ notice, with the site bought by STACK, who will redevelop the site into a similar concept.
A small corner of Hatch, home to OL Brewery and the food traders who were based around the courtyard, have been allowed to remain open for now.
Rosso – King Street
For 14 years, Rio Ferdinand’s Rosso has been a landmark Manchester restaurant, standing at the very top of King Street.
Loved by the rich and famous, the Italian restaurant announced its closure in September and its gold plaque signs were whipped down overnight.
They said at the time: “It wasn’t an easy decision to close this wonderful restaurant which has flourished into an icon of the Manchester restaurant and social scene. It feels like the right time to go out at the height of our popularity and look ahead to new horizons.
“We could not be more grateful to our Champions League winning staff both past and present. Our thanks go out to each and every one of them for making Rosso what we are today.”
The site is now being transformed into a Cibo.
Mr Dicks – Shudehill
It was the biggest gimmick of them all – and Mancs LOVED it.
Mr Dicks served a menu of x-rated-shaped waffles on sticks, from vulvas dunked in pink chocolate to penises with creamy white chocolate on the top.
For £8.50, diners could whack on toppings like crushed nuts, marshmallows and Oreos.
But it was short-lived, despite the huge queues that formed on its opening week, and the Mr Dicks site is now home to Ciaooo’s loaded garlic bread restaurant.
Goodbye, chocolate dipped dongs. It was fun while it lasted.
Cafe Metro – High Street
Probably the biggest shock of them all this year, despite being a humble little spot, was the news that family-run institution Cafe Metro had 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’.
No. 1 Canal Street – Gay Village
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.
Font – Oxford Road
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.
Alvarium – Northern Quarter
Northern Quarter bar Alvarium made a lot of noise over the summer when its application for more outside seating was denied by Manchester Council, and even went so far as to launch its own Crowdfunder to save it from closure last year.
The bar wrote that it was only ‘bye for now’, explaining 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.’
But it never did reopen and its social pages fell quiet for good.
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!”
Atkinsons Coffee – Mackie Mayor
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.”
But the incredible corner unit didn’t stay empty for long, with Stray bar swooping in and transforming it into a cosy cocktail bar.
The Liar’s Club – Bridge Street
Our dreams of dancing til 4am to a soundtrack of pop bangers went up in flames – much like the lethal cocktails served at this legendary tiki bar.
The Liars Club has been serving flaming Zombie cocktails and all sort of other rum-based drinks into the small hours for more than a decade.
After one final hurrah on New Year’s Eve, the space will be used by Crazy Pedro’s as a private hire space, but may eventually be redeveloped into a new concept.
They wrote: “She’s had one hell of an innings – hundreds of thousands of zombies, tonnes and tonnes of cinnamon and many a hangover inflicted.”
Sud – Ancoats, Exhibition, Sale, Altrincham
Should this even be on this list? Sud made a bit of a fuss this year, changing its menu to a ’12 plates’ concept, then changing it back again, before announcing it was closing all four sites in Greater Manchester.
But once the dust settled we all breathed a sigh of relief to learn the team aren’t leaving the city, and will still be serving big bowls of pasta at all four locations, just under a new name.
Sud, formerly known as Sugo, will close on New Year’s Eve ready to rebrand as Rigatoni’s in 2024.
They said: “We’ve been driven by market conditions, and have tried and mulled over a few iterations of SUD, but we don’t feel they’re the best way we can serve our loyal and valued customers and so we have made the decision to close.”
Neon Tiger – Bridge Street
This one really didn’t last long. Neon Tiger was a Northern Thai BBQ-inspired restaurant located in that pretty mosaic-tiled building on Bridge Street.
Despite a promising start, they announced the closure of their Manchester restaurant in April, less than a year after opening.
They wrote: “We’re sad to announce that Neon Tiger will be closing our doors for the final time on Sunday April 30th. We’d like to thank everyone who has come to see us, raised a glass with us and made this place so special to us. We’d like to thank all of the staff for being so wonderful and for all their hard work.
“Then, we might just see you again, only in a different form. Keep your eyes peeled, but for now, thank you again. x”
The space has already been taken over and is now home to Juicebox, a natural wine bar.
Habas – Brown Street
Habas, the underground Middle Eastern restaurant from the same team behind El Gato Negro and Canto, will be no more when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Simon Shaw, Chef Parton at Mills Hill Developments Limited, said: “As of January 2024, we have made the decision to close the doors of Habas Bar & Restaurant, however we are thrilled to announce that our Brown Street venue has an exciting new concept on the way.
“We would like to thank all of our guests and reassure Habas fans that this is not the end of Habas Bar & Restaurant forever, simply a farewell from Brown Street for now.”
They’re doing 25% off everything on 31 December so that customers can help see them out with a final knees-up.
North Tea Power – Northern Quarter
It had become hard to remember the Northern Quarter without North Tea Power in it – the charming little cafe had been on Tib Street for 13 years.
But the coffee shop, considered by many to be a trailblazer for the city, shut forever in June.
They wrote: “Things are constantly changing here in NQ, over the past 13 years it’s been our pleasure to be a part of it all.
“After some tough decisions and some careful considerations, it seems that the right thing to do is to end our journey here.”
El Capo – Northern Quarter
This was a weird closure – El Capo quietly closed its doors in May, but said it was due to an electrical issue and would be reopening soon.
Then every post on its Instagram account was deleted, its website went dead, and the shutters never came back up again.
It appears that El Capo is officially los muertos, and its reign serving £1 tacos on Tariff Street is over.
Their last update said: “We’re working hard to get our site ready to start trading again and get back to serving you your favourite tacos and margs, as soon as possible. Keep an eye out for updates.”
Alphabet Brewing Co – Piccadilly
The last couple of years have been rough for independent breweries, with loads shutting down across the region.
In the last 18 months in Manchester alone we lost Temperance Street Brewery, Beatnikz Republic, and Beer Nouveau – but none shocked the city more than the closure of Alphabet Brewing Co.
The independent brewery was first founded in 2014, and was famed for its craft beers (and their pun-loaded names) like Juice Springsteen, A to the K, and Charlie Don’t Surf.
It also had one of the city’s best taprooms, ABC Taproom, on North Western Street, part of a stretch affectionately known as the Piccadilly Beer Mile.
Back in the days where street food was still a relatively alien concept, Alphabet and Grub teamed up to create one of Manchester’s most exciting operations.
There is light on the horizon for Alphabet Brewing Co though – their socials have sprung back to life with new branding and news of a new owner. The brewery’s not in Manchester anymore though, so it’s still our loss.
Sale Foodhall – Sale
Sale Foodhall was one of the first independent businesses to open in the redeveloped Stanley Square, blending a convenience store with a food hall space hosting a rotation of street food operators.
It was part of the Store Group, which shuttered half of its estate in 2023 – though did manage to finally open its General Store at Kampus.
Sale Foodhall was one of the big names affected by the group’s difficulties. They said it was ‘tough to let it go’ but it was ‘unable to keep the business moving forward sustainably’, blaming ‘unprecedented cost increases’.
Their statement said: “We share this news with a heavy heart. It is really tough at the moment for hospitality businesses, independent businesses, retailers, makers – everyone really! We know that you, our guests and followers, are feeling it too and we’re sorry that we couldn’t keep serving you in Sale.
Luciano – Alderley Edge
Gino D’Acampo opens and closes restaurants more often than I open and close a fridge these days.
A year after launching Luciano in the former Piccolino site, the restaurant stepped aside and allowed San Carlo to swoop in.
He’d also planned to take over the old Panacea site with Luciano, but that never happened, and it’s now home to Ikaro.
Gino’s since announced plans to open a new restaurant in Manchester city centre, so we’re not getting rid of the much-loved celebrity chef any time soon.
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Featured image – The Manc Group