Just a month after award-winning Northern Quarter ramen spot Cocktail Beer Ramen + Bun (CBRB) announced its closure, bosses have revealed plans to hand the keys to a former employee.
Tom Potts, a former bar manager at the late-night Oldham Street favourite, will soon be taking over the restaurant and turning it into a Kong’s Chicken Shop.
Whilst still working for CBRB, in 2021 Tom took advantage of the furlough scheme to start his own specialist fried chicken sandwich business – even cooking and serving his first sandwiches out of CBRB’s kitchen whilst the restaurant was closed.
So it makes sense that, when the restaurant was forced to shut for good, the first business they approached about taking on the lease was Kong’s Chicken Shop.
Over the past two years, Kong’s has moved from pop-up to pop-up. Tom has seen some great success: opening concepts at different locations in Manchester and experimenting with diner food, sandwiches, meat’n’three, roast dinners, tacos, loaded fries, ramen, bao and kebabs.
At the heart of his menu, the star has always been the same. Using thigh meat, the chicken at Kong’s is brined for three hours, rolled in a secret spice mix, then double-dredged for a crispier texture.
The brand now has three different pop-up sites across the city, with a Kong’s Diner in Dog Bowl, a Kong’s Cantina in Black Dog Ballroom, and a sandwich/burger shop at Hatch street food village.
And finally, he is poised to open his first permanent restaurant back where it all began. How fitting.
Kong’s has previously hosted a collaboration with CBRB and Asahi where Tom’s signature fried chicken made an appearance in steaming bowls of ramen and fluffy bao buns, and given his propensity for playing with different cuisines we wouldn’t have been at all surprised if the new menu nodded to the site’s history.
However, if that is the plan he’s not letting on yet – telling The Manc that the new eatery will serve a diner-style brunch with fried chicken French toast, free refills on filter coffee and dedicated bloody mary and Irish coffee drinks menus.
As for lunch and dinner, the plan is to keep things classic with the chicken sandwiches and wings that built up the Kong’s concept in the first place. There’ll also be a selection of nice small plates and larger sharers, with a focus on grilled meats and flatbreads.
As for Sundays, fans of the OG fried chicken roast dinner will be pleased to hear that the dish is set to make a return. With a bar offering running late into the evening, some of the late-night feel will carry over from the CBRB days soundtracked by lots of punk music.
Tom said: “I’m excited to be working on drinks again, it’s been fun. I can’t wait to be able to show off what we can do in our own space, it’s a dream come true.
“Obviously it’s really sad about CBRB closing but at least there’s a silver lining. It means a lot to us to be in the building where we first started and that I worked at since the beginning. We’re excited to be able to show what we can do and really do justice to what came before.”
First opened on Oldham Street in 2018, after five years the team has announced it will now hand over the keys to Tom who will turn CBRB into Kong’s NQ.
In a joint statement released to Instagram, the two businesses wrote: “A Silver Lining // Since the announcement of our closure, we have been inundated with support + lovely messages from you beautiful people.
“But it’s time for a bit of good news… lets be honest, we all need some of that right now.
“Those of you that have been with us from the beginning, will remember our OG Tom.
“Tom was with us from day dot, helping build CBRB (literally) + was a huge part of making this lil ramen gaff the place it was. After flying the nest in 2021 to pursue his own food concept @kongskitchens , using the CBRB kitchen for their first pop up + coming back together a year later for our first ever collab.. we are now super happy to be able to say that the place we’ve called home is going to be staying in the fam.
“You may of seen the news that Kongs will be opening their own venue in the NQ recently + we’re dead chuffed to announce they will be moving into our old home at 101-103 Oldham Street.
“We’re super proud + happy that after all this, there is a silver lining to our story.
“Give them a follow if you’re not already + stay tuned for more updates on the opening loves!”
Feature image – The Manc Group
Rudy’s is opening a new pizzeria and pizza school in the former Dawson’s Music site
A year on from the initial news that Rudy’s would be taking over the old Dawson’s Music site on Portland Street, bosses behind the chain of neighbourhood pizzerias have finally hinted towards the new site’s opening date.
Revealing it is set to open in Manchester city centre this spring, they also shared the news that the new 8,000sqft location will be home, not just to another restaurant, but also to Rudy’s very own pizza school.
Billed as a ‘world-class destination for pizzaiolo talent’, the new pizza academy will take just over half the space – providing a structured training programme to both experienced pizza chefs and novices. It is set to welcome over 100 pizza chefs in this first year.
The restaurant, meanwhile, will span the rest with room for 120 covers. It will be Rudy’s sixth pizza restaurant in Manchester.
The new location at Portland Street will also be the HQ for Rudy’s Bake at Home, back by popular demand.
Serving the perfect and classic Neapolitan pizza since 2015 from its original Rudy’s in Ancoats, the acclaimed pizzeria has since opened 16 sites across the UK, with the new 120-cover pizzeria in Portland Street being its sixth location in Manchester.
Born out of passion for pizza, Rudy’s follows the authentic Neapolitan tradition of pizza making, serving classic recipes such as Marinara, Margherita and Calabrese – all originating from Naples, the birthplace of pizza.
Rudy’s has been praised by many as one of the best pizzerias in the UK, it is renowned for its consistency and quality in Neapolitan pizza making. On a mission to pave the way in pizza making all accordance to a truly authentic Neapolitan technique, Rudy’s is proud to open Rudy’s Pizza Academy at the new Portland Street location.
Jos Goncalves, manager at Rudy’s Portland Street, said: “We are delighted to announce that our next Rudy’s pizzeria will be located on Manchester’s bustling Portland Street.
Manchester has been home to the Rudy’s famiglia since we first opened in Ancoats in 2015, and we can’t wait to open our latest pizzeria, with the addition of our first Pizza Academy in the city this spring”.
Featured image – Rudy’s
Watch as Ed Sheeran debuts new music for the first time ever at ‘intimate’ Manchester gig
Now normally, when an artist chooses to take some brand new material out on tour for the first time, they’ll test the waters with a few intimate shows.
Just recently, we’ve had both Fall Out Boy and Blossoms at Band on the Wall, The 1975 at Gorilla, and Jason Manford in a beer garden.
But for Ed Sheeran, his idea of ‘intimate’ is… the AO Arena. That super cosy 21,000-capacity venue. Ah.
After selling out FOUR nights at the Etihad Stadium last summer, though, the chance to see Ed on stage in an arena again is a novel one, and it sold out the venue in minutes.
The ‘Shape of You’ singer announced this surprise arena tour just weeks before he took to the stage, in support of his upcoming sixth album Subtract.
This mini tour kicked off in Manchester last night – meaning our city got to hear new track ‘Eyes Closed’ live for the first time ever.
You can watch the highlights from Ed Sheeran at the AO Arena in the video below