Liam Fray has teamed up with TNQ to launch a brand new all-day drinks and dining venue in Northern Quarter.
The Courteeners’ lead singer has partnered with Jobe Ferguson (TNQ, The Liars Group) and esteemed chef Anthony Fielden for the venture – taking over a vacant building on Thomas Street.
Titled ‘The Smithfield Social’, the cafe-bar’s concept is inspired by the multipurpose work-and-play brunch venues found over the pond in New York City – serving freshly-sourced grub in a laid-back setting from dawn ’til dusk.
Specialising in high-quality breakfasts, gourmet sandwiches and small plates, the venue will open from 8am to 1am every day – doubling as a morning hangout and late-night drinking den.
Just like there’s a story behind every Courteeners song, The Smithfield Social says there’s a tale behind each of their dishes.
The venue has committed itself exclusively to “local, seasonal, ethically-produced items”, with specially-cured butcher’s bacon, brioche buns, organic avocados, and the “Rolls-Royce of eggs” all included on the breakfast menu (which will run until 4pm).
Other plates include top-quality corn-fed chicken wings, lasagne with buffalo mozzarella, meatballs, lamb kofta and smoky Baba Ghanoush.
Fresh-pressed juices, healthy ginger shots, loose-leaf teas, and Indian coffee blends (offered in collaboration with local roastery Heart and Graft) will be available to order in-house for a working lunch or on-the-go.
A newly-renovated bar will also be serving wines from around the world (with owners promising an option for every pocket size) – including a chardonnay named ‘best in the world’ and a specially-curated Bloody Mary menu.
Cocktails and low ABV drinks will be up for grabs, with local brewery Cloudwater taking up two draught taps.
Food dishes will also be available for click-and-collect to tuck into at home.
Fray is the latest local musician to dive into the hospitality scene, with The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess announcing a collab with Koffee Pot to bring his Tim Peaks coffee concept to The Deaf Institute last year.
The Courteeners frontman has been a familiar face in NQ for over a decade – harbouring a close friendship with the TNQ team for several years.
As well as having an award-winning food & drink team behind the project, Fray is also inheriting a building with deep roots in Manc music; with the most recent occupant Teacup Kitchen owned by legendary Manchester DJ Mr Scruff.
With the venue lying dormant for several months since Teacup’s closure, The Smithfield Social has swiftly stepped in to take its place on the NQ main strip.
Thomas Street was redesigned in summer 2020 to create extra space for its bars to stretch out and offer al fresco dining (considered a safer option during the pandemic). The whole street is set to reawaken in a matter of weeks when outdoor hospitality restrictions are lifted – and is being widely tipped as the go-to spot for summer drinks now that pedestrianisation in Northern Quarter is becoming permanent.
Despite its status as the ‘new kid on the block’, The Smithfield Social is unlikely to find making friends a problem – with Courteeners fans likely to flock to the bar from its launch date on April 12.
Despite his great achievements on stage, The Smithfield Social represents Fray’s first foray into the hospitality sector. But with a multitalented and widely experienced team behind him, it sounds like all the ingredients are there for an exciting new venue…
The Smithfield Social will welcome customers on April 12 when outdoor hospitality returns to action.
A full opening is planned for May 17 when indoor venues are permitted to trade again.
Table bookings go live tomorrow – with a link available on The Smithfield Social Instagram page @TheSmithfieldSocialNQ.
Owners have announced they are currently recruiting for roles at the new venue, including bar staff and kitchen workers (email [email protected] for more information).