This year continues to be a difficult one for many, especially Manchester’s hospitality businesses. While the cost of living rises for domestic households are starting to be felt, Manchester’s restaurants, bars and pubs have also been feeling the strain as the cost of ingredients soars along with their energy bills and general operating costs.
Amidst the ongoing crisis, last week’s mini-budget announcement from Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng was criticised by Manchester’s Night Time Economy Advisor, Sacha Lord, who warned it would mean ‘last orders for thousands of hospitality businesses’. Tweeting after the announcement, Lord wrote on Twitter: “Speechless. No VAT or biz rate support for hospitality. Corporation tax cuts are completely useless if businesses aren’t turning a profit, or worse, closed.”
Just last month, a survey of landlords, found that seven-in-ten fear they will go bust over the next six months without tangible Government help on fuel bills. Unfortunately, many have already had to make the difficult decision to shutter for good across Greater Manchester, citing the cost of living crisis, but also the lingering impact of the pandemic, as reasons for closing down. Below we take a look at the Manchester businesses that have sadly closed this year.
Read more: “I’m poor. I do nothing. I drive a s*** car”: The café owners whose dreams have become a nightmare
JJ Vish and Chips
Back in July, Manchester’s first fully vegan fish and chip shop announced its sudden closure – just over a year after opening in the city centre – leaving customers “gutted”. JJ Vish and Chips opened as a takeaway in Manchester in February 2021, after having success with its first venture in Leeds.
It offered a entirely plant-based menu and had opened to huge acclaim, with vegan diners raving about the range on offer at the Levenshulme takeaway, but earlier this year, owner Jess Jones, made an emotional statement on social media announcing the immediate closure of both its sites due to delivery platform fees, rising costs of oil, utilities, fuel, stock and the impact of the pandemic.
The Manchester cafe bar inspired by Scandinavian culture called it quits in August – citing issues faced by the hospitality industry in the wake of Covid-19. Lättsam, served artisan coffee and food and was opened by the team behind brewery Beatnikz Republic in December 2020.
Located on Spring Gardens, in the heart of Manchester’s busy business district, the cafe bar opened its doors fully in July 2021 and served IKEA-style meatballs to mark the occasion. But owners took to Instagram to announce the sad news that it had closed for good back in August.
“With multiple re-openings over years that followed, the working landscape had completely changed and we suffered many of the issues that other city centre hospitality venues have faced over the past 12 months in this post-Covid world. Thank you to our loyal customers who loved our chilled-out vibes and couldn’t get enough of our gorgeous meatballs. We hope to bump into you in the future. Thank you & goodbye (Tack adjö), Team Lättsam.”
At the start of August, Frost Burgers on Portland Street blamed the Cost of Living crisis for its closure. The vegan burger bar, which had been receiving rave reviews opened last year following the success of its Liverpool site, but closed for good on August 13 – though its Liverpool site remained open.
The owners of Frost Burgers made the closure announcement with a statement on Instagram and urged fans to come down and enjoy a final meal over the last two weeks before the doors closed for good. Explaining the reason for the closure, they said: “We knew expanding the business post pandemic had its risks, but with all the support our Liverpool branch had received we were confident Manchester would be a success.
“Then the current financial situation hit: inflation, increasing food prices, energy bills, supplies and the rapid rise of cost of living has forced us into a situation we cannot come back from. “It’s a really hard time for any small businesses and we send our love and support to all those still fighting!”
Just this week, acclaimed chef Mary-Ellen McTague confirmed that her Chorlton Restaurant The Creameries had closed for good. Despite reviews from national critics and a recent revamp with an Italian menu, the chef said the combination of the pandemic and rising costs meant the business was no longer viable.
“The whole thing has been awful, but it has been like that since the beginning of the pandemic,” she told the Manchester Evening News. She had been trying to sell the business for some months, but had a number of potential buyers pull out at the last minute.
Mary-Ellen, formerly a sous chef at Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin-starred Fat Duck, and later co-owner of Aumbry in Prestwich opened The Creameries in 2018 on the site of a former dairy. “In September 2019, we started operating just as a restaurant, doing tasting menus, and it was working so well,” she said. “We had a brilliant Jay Rayner review, it was packed, we were making money, not just keeping afloat. Then the pandemic hit, and we’ve been f**ked since then.”
Less than a week ago, trailblazing Northern Quarter restaurant V Rev said its final goodbye – just days after announcing reduced opening hours in a bid to make the venue work financially. Posting on Instagram, the restaurant issued a statement saying that the issue was “now out of our hands and we’re absolutely gutted”.
V Rev had been a popular dining option in Manchester for the past ten years – and was one of the first establishments in the city to serve a 100 percent vegan menu. The restaurant, founded by Dominic Moss, was famous for its traditional American-style comfort food Including loaded nachos and fries.
Explaining the difficult decision, the owners wrote: “The past few years with lockdown and restrictions brought us to a point where we’re not able to financially recover and stay operational. Obviously, this isn’t how we wanted things to end – this is now out of our hands and we’re absolutely gutted.”
One of Manchester’s most popular curry cafe s announced the closure of its flagship site at the start of August. Chorlton’s Chapati Cafe on Wilbraham Road, had been well-known for its home-cooked Gujarati-influenced food, and its daily changing menu of ‘rice and three’ curries.
It was founded by husband and wife duo Dan Hall and Priti Chauhan-Hall in 2014 and has been a much-loved part of Chorlton’s food and drink scene. Just last year, the couple opened a second branch over at MediaCity, initially as a takeaway to comply with lockdown restrictions.
Dan took to Twitter and Instagram to announce the sad news that their Chorlton flagship would be closing once they had secured someone to take over the leasehold, but their MediaCity branch would remain open. Fortunately, both he and his wife were optimistic about the future and had begun looking into street food festivals and events without the fixed costs associated with running a large site.
Popular Stockport eatery, Blackshaws confirmed that it would be closing – but would be opening in a new guise at a later date. Situated opposite Stockport’s Market Hall in the Old Town, it originally opened as a family bakery and confectioners and was later transformed into kitchen and bar by hospitality operator Steve Pilling who also owns the town’s Produce Hall.
While there had been some suggestions that the venue would close for good, Pilling confirmed to the M.E.N. that it would be closing for now, it would reopen as a concept that would take Stockport’s food scene to “another level”.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Mr Pilling said: “It is closed for a makeover and will reopen as an evening restaurant, which will build on Stockport’s booming food scene with many of the fine-dining chefs from the Damson days of Heaton Moor and further afield. We believe that there needs to be more food-based businesses in the town centre and we would like to be at the forefront of this – it’s all very positive for Stockport in these difficult times.”
Before the energy crisis really began to bite, The Albany, a popular hotel and restaurant was forced to close due to the ‘ridiculous’ rise in utility bills from ‘greedy’ energy firms. The Albany, in Heywood, confirmed it would be shutting for the final time today (Sunday, June 26).
The venue, on Rochdale Road East, functioned as both a hotel and a pub and restaurant named The Orchard. However, following the cost of living crisis and energy bills hiking more than ever before, it sadly announced via social media it would have to close due to ‘circumstances out of our control’.
The post, which had hundreds of shares, said: “So to stop the rumours there’s no buyer, it’s not been put up for sale or sold for flats! It’s closed only because of the ridiculous rise in utility bills the last two months. “So please do everything as Heywood people do want to keep the remaining shops, pubs and local businesses open! Like to thank you all for your custom over the years and the closing of the pub will be a massive loss to a lot of people.”
Last week it was reported that District, the Thai-inspired barbecue celebrated by the Michelin Guide for its high-end menu, would be closing, but re-opening at some point as a bar – scaling back its food offering to a snack menu. It cited ‘extreme economical pain’ as the reason for the change in direction.
The Oldham Street spot, which wore its sci-fi influences on its sleeve, let customers know about the imminent changes through an email sent in its own quirky manner. It read: “Recent events have taken their toll and we are facing extreme economical pain. A final coming together of the off-world vigilantes to overthrow tyrannical rule is the only route to survival.”
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Owner Danny Collins said: “There must only be a small handful of restaurants in Manchester breaking even right now. The cost of ingredients has gone through the roof and there is only so much we can charge for a meal before people stop coming in.”
Peck & Yard
At the start of August, an award-winning chicken restaurant shuttered for good, bidding farewell to its team and customers in a emotional farewell video. Peck & Yard – Manchester’s first Pan-Asian fried chicken shack – shared the news on its social media pages via a video, which documented their last staff meal.
The restaurant and takeaway, which served chicken dishes with an Asian twist, was launched in 2018 by friends Ed Cayton and Bovies Chee. Its menu focused on wings, drumsticks, burgers and more – all covered with a range of delicious homemade sauces ranging from katsu to Malaysian satay and red hot Koreana.
Under the video, the Peck & Yard owners wrote: “So, that’s a wrap from us. It’s been tough and we did our best but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. “The hardest thing was saying goodbye to our loyal staff members. We just have to go back to the drawing board and come back stronger.”
Earlier this week, the team behind the chicken joint announced that they would re-open their restaurant as a ramen restaurant and bar. Called Shogun Ramen and Bar, it’ll serve up hearty bowls of ramen and sushi.
Back in March, Manchester’s vegan restaurants Vertigo closed down all its restaurants after the pandemic ‘took its toll’. In a post to Instagram, reduced footfall in the city centre and lack of office trade were also cited as reasons for the closures.
A statement on Instagram read: “It is with a heavy heart we have to announce Vertigo is no more. Sadly, we have ceased trading at all of our sites. The pandemic really took its toll on us, and trade is still well behind what it was pre-March 2020.
“And now with significantly increased costs (especially utilities) it is no longer viable for us to operate from our city centre locations which rely heavily on a Monday-Friday office trade.” Owner Michael Jebelli opened the first Vertigo on Cross Street in the Royal Exchange building in 2018, in the former premises of the Maneas Greek restaurant.
Read more of today’s top stories here.