Supporting Manchester’s Restaurant Industry

Supporting Manchester’s restaurant industry is one of our prime motivations at Manchester Bites. There’s never been a more critical time for the industry than that at present. Businesses have clung on by their finger nails through covid and then the cost of living crisis.
The start of 2024 has seen the closure of more restaurants in our city and it’s not just the smaller operations. Here we take a look at what’s been happening and perhaps what we can do to help.

A Worrying Start to 2024

Manchester has been known for many things in it’s history. Birthplace of industry and home to some of the best music bands and sports teams in the country. More recently the city has gained a reputation as having some of the best dining outside of London. From uber trendy sushi joints to the Instagramable names of The Ivy and Sexy Fish, no longer is Manchester a backwater for the discernible diner.

We are blessed with some serious local talent. Simon Martin at our very own Michelin recognised Mana, Michael Clay just down the road at Elnecot and now Tom Barnes with his exciting opening of Skof mean that Manchester is a force to be reckoned with on the dining scene of the UK. Add to this the countless smaller businesses and locally run food heroes and we’re really lucky to have such a scene.

Unfortunately, the start of 2024 has seen a very worrying pattern not emerge but grow. Restaurant closures. This has been happening since Covid but perhaps now it seems more worrying with big names and long-term businesses shutting up shop.

We’re not just talking about the smaller operations. Just last month the doors closed on a south Manchester institution Greens in Didsbury. Helmed by TV chef Simon Rimmer, the restaurant has been a go to in the city’s vegetarian community for 33 years and introduced unique flavours to herbivores and carnivores alike. On the closure of his restaurant Rimmer said

“Our landlords have increased our rent by on the region of 35%. The cost of raw materials, the cost of heat, light and power, employing people and generous food costs had meant that the business unfortunately has become unviable”

Just this week we have lost a restaurant and deli that was well loved by guests on our Canals to Canapes food tour. Lily’s deli in Ancoats (pictured) closed it’s doors for good on 13th January. Whilst it’s original branch in Ashton and the Chorlton branch are still open, we will miss the staff and of course the food at this little gem of a place. Another locally run business that just couldn’t justify remaining open.

Why is This Happening ?

The closure of restaurants in Manchester is also reflective of evolving consumer behaviors, with a growing preference for food delivery and takeout services. The convenience of ordering from the comfort of home, has prompted a shift in how some people choose to enjoy their meals. As a result, many restaurants, especially smaller establishments without robust delivery infrastructure, have struggled to adapt to this changing landscape.

Additionally, the rise of virtual kitchens and ghost kitchens has added a new dimension to the competition, further squeezing traditional dine-in restaurants. These establishments, operating without a physical storefront, can often offer lower prices and a more streamlined operation, posing a formidable challenge to brick-and-mortar restaurants in Manchester.

Rising Rents and Property Prices:

Manchester’s urban landscape has been undergoing a transformation in recent years, with gentrification driving up property prices and rents. This has placed an additional burden on restaurant owners, especially those located in popular and trendy neighborhoods. As property values soar, many restaurants are faced with the difficult decision of whether to absorb the increased costs or pass them on to consumers in the form of higher menu prices.

For smaller, independently owned restaurants, the rising cost of real estate can be particularly detrimental. The closure of such establishments not only diminishes the city’s culinary diversity but also erodes the unique character that these smaller ventures bring to Manchester’s neighborhoods.

Business rates, VAT, food costs, wages. Everything is up. Last year in a local news article Sud pasta (now Rigotonis) explained what the costs were involved in their “house pasta”dish. The dish cost £16.50 and after all costs the restaurant made 50p. Think about that for a moment. If you had to get up every morning and work hard to keep your standards high, your reputation in tact and your staff all employed. Wouldn’t you want more than 50p per dish for your efforts?

Community Impact

Beyond the economic implications, the closure of restaurants in Manchester has a profound impact on the community. These establishments serve as social hubs, contributing to the city’s identity and fostering a sense of local pride. The loss of these gathering spaces creates not only a void in the culinary landscape but also a gap in the social fabric of the city.

We pride ourselves on being a friendly city. This is so apparent with the warm welcomes we receive on a daily basis when taking our food tours into businesses such as The Butcher’s Quarter on Tib street or This n That café. We feel almost like family and the community spirit that is created amongst the restaurant industry seaps into every customer.

When restaurants close we don’t just loose a place to eat we loose familiar faces, friendly smiles and a genuine pillar of the communities. We lose a place to come together, celebrate special occasions, or simply enjoy a meal with loved ones. The closure of these establishments resonates beyond economic statistics, touching the hearts of residents who have forged memories and connections within the walls of their favorite restaurants.

The worrying surge in restaurant closures in Manchester is a multifaceted issue rooted in economic challenges, changing consumer behaviors, rising costs, and community impact. As the city grapples with these closures, it becomes crucial for stakeholders, including local authorities, business owners, and residents, to collaborate in finding sustainable solutions to revive and support the beleaguered hospitality industry.

What can we do?

The resilience of Manchester’s culinary scene lies in the ability to adapt, innovate, and collectively work towards ensuring that the city’s diverse dining experiences continue to thrive. We have amazing people, doing amazing things and getting little if any reward. This won’t continue. We all need to be supporting Manchester’s restaurant industry.

We can all do a little bit to help this year. Have that lunch catch up you’ve been meaning to have for months, celebrate that milestone, order take aways directly from the restaurant and if possible, go and collect. All small things but if we all do them, we can help.

Prices will increase but you can be guaranteed that every restaurant owner and manager will be doing their upmost to make sure that service is on top form and that your experience is reflected in those increases. We speak to countelss business owners in the industry and one thing that ties them all together is the reluctance to pass these costs on to the end customer. But needs must and if we’re to keep enjoying Manchester’s food and nightlife economy as we all love to, we need to be aware of this.

Of course, the main people who really can make a difference here are the government. Ending ridiculous business rates and giving tax breaks to an industry which employs over half a million people directly and millions more indirectly.  The restaurant industry has been battered more than most in the past few years and the help from above is pitiful.

How many more loved restaurants need to close before our communities are just a generic copy type full of Starbucks, Pizza Express and Nando’s?

A group of food tour guests visit Lily's in Ancoats. Now sadly closed.

5 Manchester Christmas Gift Ideas

It’s that time of year again when we struggle to find the perfect gift for loved ones. What to buy the person who has everything or that friend who says they don;t care but you know that they really do.

We’ve put a list of Manchester inspired Christmas gift ideas together. We hope it helps.

Manchester Bee Gifts

The Manchester bee has become a symbol of resilience and unity, representing the city’s spirit in the face of challenges. Gift your loved ones a piece of Mancunian pride with Manchester bee merchandise. From cozy hoodies and stylish tote bags to delicate jewelry, there are countless options adorned with this iconic emblem. Not only do these items make for thoughtful gifts, but they also carry a powerful message of strength and community.
You can shop online at the Manchestershop.

Locally made arts and crafts gifts

The Northern Quarter is a hub of creativity and innovation in Manchester. Explore local artisanal markets and boutique stores to discover handcrafted goods that make for unique and memorable Christmas gifts. Consider items such as handmade candles, bespoke ceramics, or locally produced artwork. By choosing artisanal goods from the Northern Quarter, you not only support local artists and makers but also give a one-of-a-kind present that reflects the city’s creative energy.

Head to our friends at the Manchester craft and design centre on Oak street and see what you can find.

Manchester Gin or Craft Beer gift sets

For those who appreciate the finer things in life, a Manchester gin, rum or craft beer set is an ideal Christmas gift. We’ve got a thriving craft beverage scene, with numerous distilleries and breweries producing high-quality libations. Create a custom gift set featuring a bottle of Manchester gin, a selection of craft beers from local breweries, and perhaps a bottle of the legendary Salford rum. It’s a tasteful way to share the distinctive flavours of Manchester and the surrounding area with friends and family.

The Gift of Music

Manchester has a rich musical heritage, from the legendary sounds of Oasis to the iconic venues that have hosted countless performances. Gift the music lover in your life a piece of Manchester’s sonic history with memorabilia from their favourite artists or concerts. This could include vintage concert posters, limited edition vinyl records, or even tickets to upcoming shows. It’s a thoughtful nod to the city’s cultural significance in the world of music.

Food and Drink Gift Vouchers

If your loved one is a real food lover then what better gift than a food tour voucher for one of our food tours in Manchester. We’ve got vouchers for join in tours as well as private tours for those special occassions. You can easily buy vouchers which have a full 6 month expiry so you can wait until the weather gets a bit warmer. If there’s a special occassion please let us know and we’ll see what we can do.

Click here to buy vouchers


Manchester Christmas Bee

New Century Hall.

New century hall is a name synonymous with Manchester’s music scene.

Built in 1963 the venue played host to names like Jimmy Hendrix, The Bee Gees, The Rolling Stones and Tina Turner. It was famous for having both excellent acoustics and a sprung dance floor.

As Manchester’s music scene changed the venue hosted many an acid-house party in the 80’s.

It was in the latter part of the 20th century that the area around New century hall became an almost forgotten part of Manchester. While other parts of the city were being developed the area we now know as NOMA was very much left alone. Businesses moved to more attractive area’s and the New century development was left behind.

Last year a relaunch occurred and once more New Century hall was on the lips of those in the know of where to go. Being a listed building has meant that many of the original interior remains. The dance floor is still the original spring version. The lights still date back to the early 60’s.

The line up will always be eclectic. The bard of Salford John Cooper Clarke has performed here since the relaunch. As have countless up and coming bands as well as some more familiar names such as The Charlatans. It’s a venue that is breathing new life into an already thriving music and art scene here in Manchester.

New Century Food Hall

New Century hall is also where you can find one of Manchester’s newest food and drink venues. Right underneath the dance floor on the ground level is New Century Kitchen.

8,000 square foot of independent food and drink retailers make this a must see destination for any food lovers in Manchester. Local names such as Spice Yard and Zumuku sushi are firm favourites with the crowds. In the centre of the kitchens you’ll find a bar offering local beers and spirits and some great inernational choices as well.

Evening Food Tour

We’ve been asked by quite a few of our clients if we’d put together and evening food tour of Manchester. New Century hall is going to be the starting point for this new project. Amazing, local food in one of Manchester’s most historical buildings. What’s not to love?

To reserve your spot on our new evening food tour, send us an email and we’ll share all of the information.

New Century Hall Entrance

Team Building Food Tours

As 2022 comes to a close we are yet again busy hosting team building events in Manchester.
Our team building food tours are a unique alternative to the more mudane end of year get togethers.

Why sit in a dull restaurant or bar when you could be exploring the back streets of Manchester. Visiting some of the city’s most loved food and drink establishments.

Each of our corporate tours are specifically tailored to suit your team’s needs. One of our team will meet you and discuss all of your needs. From dietary requriements to even creating tours based on certain themes.

Our corporate tour team is on hand to make sure everything runs to plan and you and your team have a memorable experience.

Why a food tour is great for team building?

Food is always a great medium for people to bond and interact. Everyone has a favourite dish or cuisine and we all have memories that are evoked when certain tastes and smells hit our senses. As such hosting a team building event based around food is always a guarantee for a memorable, enjoyable experience for your team.

We’ve all been to those events where we need to step out of our comfort zones and in reality most people either don’t show up or do the minimum we can.

With food everyone is equal. We all have likes and dislikes and everyone can fell comforatble and relaxed.

So how do we do it?

Over the past 2 years our team of food tour guides has been leading groups around Manchester city centre. Eating, drinking, sharing stories and generally having a great time.

We’ve got great relationships with local vendors, restaurants and bars and as such we can hire out places, have special dishes prepared and even host hands on experiences. We know where the best bites are and we know the people who make them.

We’ve hosted groups of all sizes and from all different types of businesses.

Anything’s possible, just get in touch with us of our corporate tours visits 6 locally run, independent businesses. So not only are you and your team having a unique Mancunian experience but you’re also supporting the local food and drink economy.

How to reserve your team’s next outing.

If you’d like to find out more inforamtion about bringing your team on one of our tours please just get in touch.

A corporate team enjoying one of our food tours

What do people eat in Manchester?

Manchester is one of the UK’s most multi – cultural cities. So what do people eat in Manchester? From our world famous curry mile, to the new up and coming Mexican food trucks, you’ll find us eating everything at all times of the day.

Manchester’s food communities.

On our Canals to Canapes food tour we like to talk about the communities that have made their home here in Manchester. One of the most important communities is the Caribbean community. After world was 2 many residents of the Caribbean came over to England to start new lives. Moss Side, an area to the south of the city was the main focal point for the community and still remains so to this day. Of course these new immigrants brought their food with them and the west Indian food scene has been an ever present in Manchester ever since.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s if you wanted to sample some of the best West Indian cooking you’d often have to go to private houses. Many small businesses were set up in West Indian homes and finding them could be difficult. Taxi drivers were always a good source of information as to who was knocking out the best jerk chicken or curried goat. Today Manchester has a vibrant West Indian restaurant scene.

Places like Rad’s in Ancoats feed their loyal fans until they sell out. Have a look here for some inspiration of where to get the best Caribbean food in the city.

Manchester’s Chinatown

Another community who have thrived in Manchester is our Chinese community. Did you know that Manchester has the second largest Chinatown in the UK?
Chinatown is well worth a visit when you’re in the city. Old favourites like the Yang Sing have been feeding us Mancunians some of the best Chinese food in the UK for generations. Over time and with new arrivals into the city Chinatown has also become home to some of the best Japanese and Thai restaurants in the North West.

English food classics

Whilst we love eating food from all over the world we also love our old school, local dishes. One of our favourite English dishes is the good old pie. The Great North Pie company are about to open up in the city centre and we can’t wait to try their award winning beef and ale pie with some creamy mash potatoe and a pint of Manchester Ale.

Did you know that Manchester introduced vegetarianism to the UK? In fact, in the south of the city the vegetarian society runs weekly cooking classes. The city has some amazing vegetarian and vegan places. On our vegan tour we try out some of these spots. One of our favourites is V rev in Ancoats.

If you’d like to explore Manchester and some of it’s amazing food vendors why not join our Canals to Canapes tour.

a pie and pint. popular dish in Manchester

Mackie Mayor Food Hall: A Manchester Must-See

Manchester’s food scene has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. And one of the key players in the city-centre dining is the Mackie Mayor Food Hall

Housed in an 1858 grade 2 listed building that was one a part of the bustling Smithfield Market area, Mackie Mayor today houses an eclectic mix of food and drink vendors. From top-notch pizza at Honest Crust to amazing beers at Blackjack Brewery and Brewtap and quality, locally-sourced meat at Tender Cow, there’s really something for everyone in at Mackie Mayor.

Sometimes we visit the food court on our From Canals To Canapés walking food tour of Manchester’s Northern Quarter and sample some of the tastiest dishes on offer while exploring the history of the area.

Read on to learn more about this awesome food hall that blends historical charm with inventive, modern cooking. 

The History of Mackie Mayor

The building itself was once part of the Smithfield Market area. This neighbourhood of market halls and stalls ran from the early 19th century. Smithfield was a huge market site on the edge of the city that brought a whole community of consumers and producers together. And that’s what the Mackie Mayor aims to do today.

During the market’s heyday, the mayor of Manchester was called Mackie, so one of the market’s buildings was inscribed with his name

Originally used as a meat market, the building ran into disrepair during the 1970s and its future seemed to be in grave peril. 

However, the building was one of the only surviving remnants of the former Smithfield Market. So its significance was thankfully recognised and developers Muse set about restoring and developing the site.

The Mackie Mayor Food Hall Today

Interior of Mackie Mayor food hall in Manchester with people dining at long tables | Manchester Bites Food Tours

Today, Mackie Mayor has become an anchor point for Manchester’s food and drink scene. 

Throughout the week, it’s a popular meeting point for office workers looking to grab lunch or some after-work dinner. While at weekends, the food court is busy from morning to night with shoppers, diners, and those out for a drink.

The strength of any food hall lies in the quality and diversity of the food being served. Mackie Mayor is home to a great mix of vendors. You’ll find exciting drinks, healthy foods, international cuisine, and indulgent, comforting choices.

A well-brewed morning pick-me-up can be found at Atkinsons Coffee Roasters. And if you’re feeling thirsty the Water Station offers sustainable, locally sourced and bottled waters. 

Enjoy craft beers from the Black Brewing Co. microbrewery, or explore a menu of wonderful wines at Reserve. If you’re stopping for lunch, Pico’s serves delicious tacos! They’re perfect for sampling, with the chefs recommending you try about 3 tacos from the menu.

Elsewhere, New Wave Ramen, Chilli B, and Mumma’s Fried Chicken are excellent options for a hearty dinner before a night on the town. All three vendors offer exciting vegan and veggie options, too. 

Meat-lovers can be assured of quality from the guys at Tender Cow who prepare delicious burgers and steaks. And if you’re looking for pizza, look no further than the long-running Honest Crust. You can’t miss their sourdough pizzas.

Check out vendor menus here. And follow the Mackie Mayor Instagram page for the latest news. 

A customer leans on the bar waiting at Mackie Mayor food hall in Manchester | Manchester Bites Food Tours

Other Manchester Food Markets

Looking for similar food court options around Manchester? The owners of Mackie Mayor also own the Altrincham Market House, a short train ride from Manchester city centre. 

Like Mackie Mayor, you’ll find great beers and wine, and food that caters to a wide range of tastes. And whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or perhaps just plain fussy, you’ll have plenty to choose from. 

It’s also worthwhile checking out the latest news from Altrincham Market House. It’s regularly home to themed weekend markets covering regional food producers, vintage fashion and furniture, contemporary craft, and much else.

Elsewhere, you can visit Society MCR, the city’s latest food hub. Offering exciting international street food and first-rate craft beers, there’s plenty to explore in this new addition to the city’s cultural scene. 

Again, variety is everything in a market. At Society, you’ll find a marvellous selection of foods, from snacks to accompany your beers to satisfying meals from the likes of Slap & Pickle Burgers.

Another famous option is the Arndale Market, conveniently located within the massive Manchester Arndale shopping centre. The market offers plenty of tasty street food options and makes for a nice, vibrant place to take a break from shopping.

Finally, we want to give a shoutout to Hatch, an amazing confluence of creative Mancunian businesses (including more tasty food!). 

At Hatch, you’ll find 30 independent retail, food, and drink traders that embody Manchester’s famous creative brilliance. Grab something sweet, chat over a coffee or beer, and peruse locally-made crafts. 

Several of these spots feature on our list of the best places to visit in Manchester, with plenty more suggestions as well!

If you’d like to learn more about Manchester and its amazing food scene, book one of our foodie walking tours of Manchester today. Manchester bites food tours take you to our favourite hidden food gems of the city. Great for visitors and locals alike. 

If you have any questions for us about this blog or any of our tours or services, get in touch.

This post was originally written in June 2020 and updated in March 2022.

Interior of Mackie Mayor food hall in Manchester with people dining at long tables | Manchester Bites Food Tours