A woman from Manchester is hosting a free Christmas dinner this December to help people who are struggling to eat and heat their homes.
She’ll be paying for all the food herself, and says that anyone is welcome – be they struggling to feed their kids, heat their houses, dealing with insobriety, loneliness, or homelessness.
Typically she spends Christmas Day out on the streets handing out food to people sleeping rough but said this year she wanted to do something even bigger to make the most impact for those who need help most.
Antonia Gough quit her job three years ago to help Manchester’s homeless, founding Homeless House after receiving financial support from Boohoo.com and I SAW IT FIRST co-founder Jalal Kamani.
Since then, she’s worked tirelessly to better the lives of those less fortunate – and says that she fears this year people will be in more need than ever due to the rising cost of living.
Every day she’s out on the streets handing out breakfast to Manchester’s homeless, including on Christmas Day.
But last year, out of a desire to help even more people, she also organised for a Christmas dinner to be cooked and served to the some of the city’s most marginalised and vulnerable at The Arc, a charitable organisation based in Manchester on Robert Street on the same road as her offices.
This Christmas she is gearing up to do it again, buying all the food herself so that people who can’t afford a meal this year for their kids “because times are so tough”, or those that are sat at home on their own, can come and enjoy a hot meal and some festive cheer.
There will be carol singing, hot breakfast and dinner, free haircuts, and even an appearance from Santa.
Antonia says that Sainsbury’s has been in touch to offer donations of table dressings and more to make the space feel really festive, and she’s also had further support from The Arc, Delphi Medical, Acorn, CGL & Emerging Futures. .
She told The Manc: “I’m not going to have a booking system, it’s just a case of if you’re struggling to heat or eat please turn up.
“The street people will be there and those who are in rehab, those who might be going through insobriety, that are sat at home on their own on Christmas Day, anybody is welcome.”
“We’re going to do breakfast in the morning at eleven and those who want to stay for dinner, we’ve got some singers.
Explaining how she has been taken aback by the kind offers of help she’s received so far, she continued: “Manchester Theatre contacted me this week and said they’ll send, they’ve heard sorry by Business Growth in Manchester that’s what we’re doing and they want to send down the kids to sing some carols.
“Sainsbury’s has been in touch and the staff want to donate anything we might need, table cloths, that sort of thing, yeah so it’s coming together to think that happened over the space of three days this week.”
However, whilst she’s doing everything she can to pull the dinner together there are a few things that she needs help with – and is hoping that someone in the local community will come forward to lend a hand to help bring this year’s Christmas dinner to life.
As she only has one tiny domestic oven and is planning to cook dinner for at least 70 people, she tells us that she’s looking for someone to provide a kitchen, some staff to help cook the meals, and someone to assist her with the delivery of meals to The Arc.
She added: “The support over the last two years from the community and our local businesses has been nothing short of incredible, which has allowed us to help thousands of people.
Archie’s has installed a bright pink train carriage at its original burger bar
Archie’s has fully reopened the doors of its original diner in Manchester, installing a hot pink train carriage inside.
The beloved burger and shake bar has today unveiled a ‘subway station’ in the basement as part of the Oxford Road site’s £1m transformation.
Diners can now tuck in to their smashed burgers, wings and tater tots from their own train booth.
The bright pink addition to the site has been designed like a New York City subway car, down to the handrails and the train windows with a graffiti-covered wall behind them.
The Archie’s team have even created a fast food-inspired underground map, featuring stops like Milkshake Gardens, St Pancakes, and Scrannington Place.
There’s enough seating inside the train carriage for around 25 diners, plus extra room outside it, where banks of metal train station-style benches are arranged.
The newly-revamped site also has new self-ordering screens at the entrance and a click-and-collect service.
The brand’s original site will be open from 11am (with its new breakfast offering on proud display) until 3am at the weekends.
Archie’s has become famed for its Instagram-friendly pink interiors since its launch in Manchester in 2010.
Features at other sites include giant ball pits and swings, plus masses of neon slogans, mirrors and colourful booths.
It’s lured in more than its fair share of celebs over the years too, with visits from famous faces like Floyd Mayweather, NeYo, Rita Ora, The Game, Kevin Hart and Conor McGregor, many of whom have designed their own milkshakes for the menu (Conor McGregor’s The Mac Life is a mad mix of Wispa Gold, peanut Lion Bar, hazelnut sauce and blue sherbert, if you were wondering).
Archie’s now has diners and burger bars across the country, including five here in Manchester, plus sells its food on Deliveroo.
There’s an apple crumble stall with unlimited custard under the Mancunian Way
A new food stall has opened underneath the Mancunian Way selling pots of apple and rhubarb crumble with unlimited custard.
Called Crumbled, it is one of three new food traders to have moved into Hatch street food village on Oxford Road – joined by Caroline Martin’s new Rio Mex taco joint, and Pakistani and Indian fusion spot Phukt.
Opened by Manchester-born fashion model Chloe Peers, the new crumble stall at Hatch offers two different types of crumbles with some eye-popping toppings including edible glitter, rose petals, Biscoff crumb and huge scoops of ice cream.
Customers can also opt to pay an additional £1 to enjoy unlimited custard refills, something that is well worth it when you find yourself halfway down the pot.
One of the newest additions to the street food lineup at the shipping container village, Crumbled neighbours a mouthwatering new Rio Mex taco joint from Michelin-trained chef Caroline Martins.
Having previously wowed Mancs with her fine-dining Sao Paulo Project menus at Blossom Street Social, not to mention starring in the north west heat of the BBC show Great British Menu, Martins is now also dabbling – eloquently, might we add – in the world of street food.
Inspired by her passion for the food of her home country of Brazil, combined with the time she spent living in Texas, Rio Mex sees one of Manchester’s most exciting chefs reflecting two of her favourite cuisines.
Must-try taco fillings include baja fish with biquinho pepper mayo and lime sour cream, ground pork al pastor with pineapple salsa, a five-hour chilli con carne with beef and black beans, and a melt-in-the-mouth barbacoa with cheddar sauce and house pickles.
Speaking on her new opening at hatch Caroline Martins, owner of RIO-MEX, said: “I fell in love with Hatch back in 2022 when I visited for the first time – the whole vibe was awesome! It’s the home of diversity in Manchester and a place where you can get everything done in one place.
“You can pop in, get your nails done, buy a cool vintage vest, get a cocktail at Miami Ice and have some incredible street food for dinner. And now RIO-MEX is joining; we can’t wait for everyone to try our beautiful Brazilian-Mexican fusion menu.”
You’ll also find butter chicken burgers and loaded masala fries over at newcomer Phukt, which is serving up Pakistani and Indian fusion dishes.
Promising a ‘feast from the East’, think tandoori gyros and biryani burritos, plus chaats, salads, dirty burgers and more.
Feature image – The Manc Eats
Hatch, Manchester’s award-winning food, drink, and retail destination, has welcomed a number of fabulous new traders with a Brazilian-Mexican eatery from one of Manchester’s most acclaimed chefs and there’s also a brand new vintage retailer making a new home for itself within the Hatch community.
Great British Menu’s Caroline Martins, who has worked in some of the world’s most highly-esteemed restaurants and was responsible for Manchester pop-up success story Sao Paulo Project, is bringing her brand new concept RIO-MEX to Hatch. RIO-MEX is a Brazilian-Mexican fusion street food project, and will be serving tacos, loaded nachos, churros and salgadinhos, which translates to ‘savoury nibbles’ and are often served at Brazilian pubs. Menu highlights include the Chilli Con Carne Taco, which takes five hours and the perfect blend of herbs and spices to prepare.
The inspiration for RIO-MEX came from Caroline’s passion for the food of her home country of Brazil, combined with the time she spent living in Texas. Whilst there, Caroline developed a passion for fusion cooking and RIO-MEX was born – a brand new concept for one of Manchester’s most exciting chefs reflecting two of her favourite cuisines.
Caroline Martins, owner of RIO-MEX commented:
“I fell in love with Hatch back in 2022 when I visited for the first time – the whole vibe was awesome! It’s the home of diversity in Manchester and a place where you can get everything done in one place. You can pop in, get your nails done, buy a cool vintage vest, get a cocktail at Miami Ice and have some incredible street food for dinner. And now RIO-MEX is joining; we can’t wait for everyone to try our beautiful Brazilian-Mexican fusion menu.”