It’s hard to compete with London on any level. It just happens to be one of the world’s great metropolises. But when it comes to food and drink, Manchester can safely claim to be Britain’s second city, writes Peter Martin.
That’s why the Atlantic Club is heading there from September 18 to 20, bringing a group of both UK and US operators to experience its thriving eating and drinking-out culture – and meeting the people fostering it.
It may not be the biggest conurbation or the most architecturally beautiful (see I’ve already started an argument), but going out is in its DNA. It’s the place where many upscale London restaurant brands head first when bursting out of the capital’s orbit – I’m thinking Hawksmoor, Dishoom, Ivy Collection – but perhaps, more importantly, it has a thriving and innovative entrepreneurial spirit of its own.
It’s the home of Living Ventures, the brainchild of the late Tim Bacon and Jeremy Roberts, that laid the foundations for much of today’s growth, not least by creating a bar and restaurant hub in the Spinningfields area, which threw off national concepts like New World Trading Company and The Alchemist.
Today, Manchester continues to evolve with new destinations, neighbourhoods and concepts opening up, as Atlantic Club’s partner CGA will be demonstrating on the tour with its unique research-based analysis of the changing landscape.
That diversity is driven by the likes of Roy Ellis and Neil Macleod, founders of Revolution Bars, now growing their Mission Mars business, around their iconic flagship bar, Alberts Schloss. (Yes, an Atlantic Club visit is mandatory).
Then there’s Sacha Lord, nightclub impresario, the man behind the Parklife event and now night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, and Nick Johnson and the team that created Altrincham Market on the outskirts of the city and now running Mackie Mayor, a thriving market hall near the city centre.
Manchester also has its own resident food and drink guru in the shape of Thom Hetherington, the man behind the Northern Restaurant & Bar Show, who will be helping me to guide the Atlantic Club contingent to discover the best of the city.
With most international brands coming to the UK heading straight for the ultra-competitive London market, why not look at Manchester instead? That’s the question we’ll be trying to answer – so all you US and global operators come and see for yourself.
- Atlantic Club is just a year old and is an exclusive network for senior executives from the out-of-home food and drink market wanting to operate, or already trading, internationally. The Club is an informal, invitation-only forum bringing together like-minded business leaders, brand-owners and entrepreneurs, restaurant and bar operators, from across the global food and drink spectrum. Its role is to help de-risk companies’ international strategies, by allowing senior executives to come together to gain new insights, exchange views and experiences, understand different market conditions and new working practices, to connect with and learn from both global and local experts, and develop contacts and partnerships in a confidential environment, while experiencing new places and ideas.
- If you would like to join the club’s Manchester tour, or the October tour to Washington DC (more details of that shortly), please contact the club’s business manager Sophie Spedding, via email@example.com.
- International design and branding consultancy Harrison, as one of the instigators of the Atlantic Club idea, has become Atlantic Club’s founding business partner and headline supporter, with US based construction company Herman-Stewart and online people management specialist Harri becoming principal partners and supporters. CGA, the global data and research organisation, with offices in Manchester and Chicago, is the Club’s insight partner.