Bars and restaurants across Britain are banding together to launch a campaign entitled #CancelTheCurfew – armed with an open letter and petition to change the last orders law.
The latest COVID legislation – which forbids bars and restaurants from serving customers after 10pm – has been in force for less than 100 hours and is already attracting criticism from industry members.
Footage of crowds swarming out across Deansgate on Saturday at 22:01 were lambasted by Nighttime Economic Adviser Sacha Lord as both predictable and “shambolic.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has also asked the government to go back to the drawing board – arguing that the 10pm curfew could potentially “do more harm than good.“
Now, local bars themselves are battling to get closing time pushed back – claiming that just 3% of COVID infections in the UK are traced to these environments.
A petition is live and an open letter has been published.
After months reeling from the heavy blows inflicted by coronavirus, the sector is temporarily off the ropes and swinging back in a bid to overturn the law.
Adam Wilson of The Liars Group commented: “Hospitality has bent over backwards to work within the ever-changing guidelines and the figures have proven that we’re nailing it.
“3% of cases from F&B outlets compared to HUGE upswings in education, workplaces, care homes, basically everywhere ELSE, but it is apparently hospitality taking the blame – Stop Blaming Hospitality.
“Sending thousands of people out onto the streets at exactly the same time makes it impossible to distance and will almost guarantee another surge in cases – particularly when these people will then be piling into off licences, public transport and no doubt, kitchens.
“We changed licensing laws years ago to prevent public disorder and “speed drinking” before closing time and this undoes all that effort in the midst of a global pandemic – hence #cancelthecurfew.”
Tom “Timmy” De Santis, Co-Owner at Cocktail Beer Ramen & Bun, claimed he’d heard cries of ‘all back to mine’ on Saturday night around 10.15pm which “said it all.”
“What stings the most is that we are masters of customer care, and we have spent our cash and energy making our spaces as safe as we possibly can,” he added.
“Following vague guidelines and going over every bit of government rhetoric again and again to ensure we get it right. Yet here we are, penalised, singled out and suffering yet again.
“This isn’t about infection rates, this is about stigma, misunderstanding and knee jerk policy.
“It’s a joke.”
Dean Mac, Co-Founder of One Eight Six bar on Deansgate, said his staff felt like they were being punished for their determination to survive.
He said he is supporting #CancelTheCurfew as the 10pm ban is set to cut his bookings in half.
“We’ve also had to completely change our infrastructure so that we can open earlier to actually keep ourselves in operation,” he explained.
“Our team has worked incredibly hard to adapt to all the new changes over the weekend.
“We love welcoming all our guests, but to close our doors and say goodbye at 10pm was genuinely heartbreaking, especially when you could see how chaotic the streets were at that time.”
Mark “Tez” Taylor, the Co-Owner at Arcane, described the curfew as “stupidity”.
“First off, we’re forced to implement more extreme measures in venues with regards to investing in PPE, safety screens, booths, etc in order to comply,” said Tez.
“This was ok as it put customers at ease and got us all back in to work.
“Now that those guidelines have again changed and we’re forced into a drastic loss of trading hours, many venues are still licking their wounds having already invested hundreds if not thousands of pounds to ensure safety and compliance, leaving them in a financial hole once again.
“We’ve done everything we can to do our bit. Threatened with fines, closure and financial hardship and still we’re being punished.”
Backing #CancelTheCurfew, Tez said the assumption people could leave in an orderly fashion at 10pm every evening was “unreal”.
“The failure to have the basic vision to see that every customer in every hospitality corner of every city in the UK, would be leaving at pretty much bang on 10pm, seven nights a week is unreal,” he added.
“Millions of people across the country, leaving a tightly controlled environment in a bar or restaurant, forced out into the streets in unison, many after power drinking over a few hours.
“It’s next-level stupidity from the top.”
This Manchester restaurant serves an all-vegan roast with ‘meat’ and all the trimmings
A Manchester vegan restaurant is serving an all-vegan roast with mock ‘meat’ and all the trimmings, putting an ethical twist on the British Sunday classic.Keen to see if it’s worth the hype, I took a trip down to try it out for myself – and left feeling pretty impressed.
Not being a vegan personally, I enlisted the help of two friends of the plant-powered persuasion to accompany me to get a real feel for every option.
Suffice it to say, it was a success and, whilst I won’t be converting to veganism any time soon, it’s nice to know that there are options out there for when I feel like being ‘good’.
With three different roast choices on offer, Wholesome Junkies is the first restaurant in the city centre to venture past the usual vegan choices of mushroom Wellington and roasted squash and go all-out with a variety of mock meat options.
Meats have been created in partnership with Liverpool vegan brand CB Sushi, using their mock beef and turkey joints to give vegans the feeling of a ‘proper’ roast.
Think glazed ‘turkey’ filled with stuffing, medallions of ‘beef’ and crispy deep-fried oyster mushrooms, all served with lashings of onion gravy, ‘buttered’ seasonal greens, glazed carrots and parsnips, deep-fried stuffing balls, crispy roasties and fluffy Yorkshire puddings created by Mabel’s.
Having tried all three, I have to say that my favourite was the turkey. It’s actually my least favourite meat to eat, so it was something of a surprise to find I enjoyed the vegan version much more than the real thing.
The texture was spot on, and there was none of the dryness you typically associate with the bird. Washed down with a pint of locally-brewed Cloudwater Fuzzy Hazy Pale Ale, it absolutely hit the spot.
Coming in a close second was the deep-fried oyster mushroom roast, which was so packed with flavour that it almost felt like I was eating fried chicken with my Sunday dinner.
As for the beef, it didn’t really do it for me – tasting more of herbs than red meat, but then, I don’t suppose there are many vegans queueing up the block for a bloody meat substitute.
Wholesome Junkies has long been a favourite with Manchester vegans. First shooting to fame in 2018 with an appearance on BBC2’s Million Pound Menu, owner Chelsea appeared on the show to ask for 95,000 to open her own vegan junk food restaurant.
Prior to that, she’d been running her Wholesome Junkies concept as a street food pop-up at sites like Grub and Ancoats General Store.
Whilst her bid to impress the BBC judges was not successful at the time, the TV appearance put her on the map and within a year she had her own Arndale market stall.
Fast forward a few more, and in 2022 she opened her first bricks and mortar restaurant – taking over the former Umezushi site at 4 Mirabel Street.
Since moving in, she’s completely transformed it: decking it out in bright colours and filling every corner with quirky little ornaments and decorations.
Strings of fairy lights, hanging mushrooms and frames filled with pictures from local artists all make the small space feel incredibly warm and welcoming – and our visit the restaurant was absolutely packed.
At a time when so many vegan restaurants seem to be closing, it was an absolute joy to see so many bums on seats during our visit.
Veganuary might almost be over, but if you’re a vegan – or simply just trying to cut down on your meat consumption – it’s definitely worth giving this one a go.
Feature image – The Manc Eats
Meet the couple who quit their jobs to sell sandwiches from their Northern Quarter flat
If you’re a fan of things in bread (and honestly, who isn’t) then there’s a new Italian sandwich dealer in town that you absolutely need to get down your neck.
Serving up some of the best butties we’ve had in a long time, it’s called Ad Maiora and is being run by a couple who are making absolutely everything out of a kitchen in their little Manchester flat.
Collected from a nondescript door on a Norther Quarter back street, we’re talking giant focaccia-style loaves generously stuffed with premium ingredients like ‘nduja, spicy Tuscan sausage, smoked scamorza, mortadella, burrata and red pesto.
The brainchild of Sardinian couple Daniela Steri and Enrico Pinna, all of their sandwiches are made using only top quality Italian ingredients with a total of nine different options to choose from.
From the vegan-friendly La Nonna (Italian hummus, roasted aubergine, olives, sundried tomatoes and rocket) to a huge array of different cheesy and meaty delights, fillings include parma ham, gorgonzola DOP, truffled brie, Milano salami and crumbled pistachios.
Their bread is baked freshly by hand each morning using a tiny domestic oven, and they’re already baking up to 60 loaves of schiacciata (a traditional Tuscan flatbread) a day to keep up with the demand – putting just four in the oven at a time, over and over again.
On our visit, the pair tell us that they moved over from Sardinia to the UK six years ago and first tried living in London for a year (they say they hated it) before making the move up to Manchester.
In that time, they say they’ve fallen in love with the city of Manchester and with the Northern Quarter in particular.
Inspired by the brilliant food scene in their area, two months ago they both decided to pack in their jobs and pursue their own business instead – and haven’t looked back since.
Previously, Daniela tells us she’d worked at hotel Dakota in housekeeping for three years whilst her partner, Enrico, had been employed at Ezra and Gil. Despite their hospitality experience, though, neither of them had made bread before.
That doesn’t seem to be holding them back, though, and demand for their sandwiches is rocketing as word spreads about the new homemade Italian butties for sale on a Manchester backstreet.