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.
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).
Ancoats restaurant publicly exposes ‘angry influencer’ after spat over free meal
A restaurant in Ancoats has publicly exposed an influencer (twice…) who tried to ask for a free meal in exchange for exposure.
Lucky Ramen, a tiny spot on Blossom Street that has had queues forming for its noodle soups and Asian brunches, has become embroiled in a spat with an unnamed social media star.
It all started yesterday when the restaurant went public with a message it had received, which was requesting a complimentary brunch in exchange for a post on Instagram.
Lucky Ramen shared the message and wrote that they were ‘thrilled you appreciate our food’ but that the team ‘appreciate paying customers even more’.
They described it as ‘another thrilling DM from a blue tick superstar asking for a free feast in exchange for an Insta post’.
Which was already dramatic enough, but the influencer in question has been quite cross that Lucky Ramen in Ancoats has taken a swipe at them publicly.
It appears they’ve followed up with a much less polite message, saying the independent business is ‘bang out of order’ for trying to expose them.
The influencer asked: “So you think people like us don’t deserve to eat for FREE???”
They argued that they were trying to promote the restaurant for free, offering ‘time, labour, effort and positive energy’ in exchange for the free meal as compensation.
The unnamed user then said: “Your arrogance makes me sick. Haha very funny, you got a couple of giggles but we’re the ones that are laughing.
“We go where we want, eat what we want and lastly – it’s all for free! WHOS LAUGHING NOW???”
Of course, Lucky Ramen hasn’t left that message in the DMs either, once again sharing screenshots on its Instagram page.
And they’ve chosen to smack the influencer with pure sarcasm in retaliation…
They wrote: “Dear angry influencer. Okay, aaalright… you got us! We’re truly sorry for attempting to uncover your behind-the-scenes tactics yesterday and, you know, us trying to make a living and sh*t.
“But hold on, the new message we just got deserves more than a standing ovation!
“This follow-up DM is a total game-changer, and guess what? We’re now rolling out the red carpet for all the free meals you desire. And that’s not all – our chefs are ready to part ways with their Crocs and Birkenstocks, throwing them in as an extra bonus for your tender love and labour! Even my dad’s medal of honour from the Japan war is up for grabs – he’s feeling generous the old geezer, and he’s even contemplating wheeling in his new eco-friendly hybrid wheelchair for you!
“Just hit us up with another DM, let us know when you’re swinging by to collect your well-deserved goodies, and don’t forget to leave a glowing 5-star review on both Google and TripAdvisor.
“We appreciate your understanding and, once again, sorry for the “inconvenience” we caused.
“Bon appétit + Arigato-the-f*ck-outta-here.”
Will the influencer reply again? Someone pass the popcorn.
‘Dangerous’ disqualified driver jailed after crashing into funfair in Wigan
A “dangerous” disqualified driver has been handed jail time after crashing into a funfair in Wigan last year.
Jordan O’Reilly, from Platt Bridge in Wigan, has been sentenced after pleading guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, driving without insurance, perverting the course of justice, and failing to provide a specimen.
The 21-year-old was given three years behind bars following a trial at Bolton Crown Court yesterday (29 February).
O’Reilly’s sentencing comes after he crashed his vehicle into a funfair in Wigan while trying to evade a police pursuit back in October 2023.
#JAILED I A disqualified driver who led police on a chase and crashed into a crowded funfair in #Wigan has been jailed for 3 years
After failing to stop for a Greater Manchester Police (GMP) patrol, O’Reilly then drove in excess of the speed limit and overtook a number of vehicles, all before proceeding to abandon his own moving vehicle to escape.
The vehicle O’Reilly abandoned then carried on moving, and shockingly, ended up colliding with two members of the public at the funfair – with one woman sadly left with “serious injuries” as a result.
But thanks to the help of members of the public, O’Reilly was identified as the driver and later arrested by police.
A ‘dangerous’ disqualified driver has been jailed after crashing into funfair in Wigan / Credit: GMP
After he was released on bail, it was established that he had attempted to engage others into assisting him in evading prosecution.
Speaking following O’Reilly’s sentencing this week, PC Wood, of GMP Transport Unit, commented: “O’Reilly’s disregard to his driving disqualification and actions behind the wheel that day were reckless and dangerous, and he put countless people at risk of harm. The injuries caused to the victim show the consequences dangerous driving has on other people.
“GMP would like to thank the members of the public who ensured that O’Reilly faced justice for his actions.”
PC Wood also took a moment to remind the Greater Manchester public that if they know someone who is driving whist dangerously, or while disqualified or unfit to be doing so, then they should report it to GMP.