Real Junk Food Manchester will open the city’s first waste food pay-as-you-feel restaurant in August 2017. After unfortunate delays with previous plans, family-owned, commercial property company Bruntwood have come to the rescue and offered the social enterprise a temporary site on Oxford St, in the heart of the city centre.
The site will include an ethical coffee bar in partnership with Second City Coffee, take away breakfast and lunches for Mancunians on the go, and 40 cover restaurant that will offer breakfast and lunch 5 days a week, and regular fine dining evenings.
Following the amazing success of Real Junk Food’s Crowdfunder campaign in January this year, which saw the project raise over £39k in 28 days, nearly doubling its original target of £20k, the team have been desperate to move to the next phase of their work.
Corin Bell, Director of Real Junk Food Manchester says, “The support that we received from the Crowdfunder was just amazing, beyond all of our expectations. The delays have been unavoidable, but really tough. It’s just fabulous to have contracts signed and know that we’re not far from being able to fulfil our promise to everyone who’s supported us. We’ve been popping up for long enough now, and we can do so much more in a full time space of our own. We can’t wait to get going!”
Commenting on the news, Toby Sproll, Head of Retail at Bruntwood, said: “Real Junk Food Manchester is a fantastic addition to this busy metropolitan area of Manchester and we are delighted to be partnered with such an innovative social enterprise. Both companies share very similar values, with Real Junk Food Manchester's strong commitments to a range of social and community projects reflecting our own ethos of supporting the communities in which we operate.”
Real Junk Food Manchester has been a pop-up operation since mid 2014, with renowned chef Mary-Ellen McTague leading in the kitchen since early 2016. The innovative social enterprise has hosted a huge range of “waste food” events, including pop-up restaurants, weddings, gala dinners, and support for a range of social and community projects helping people struggling in the current economy.
Mary-Ellen has now taken an exciting new role at Manchester Art Gallery, but remains Executive Chef and Director of the project. Mary-Ellen has incorporated Real Junk Food Mcr into the new art gallery cafe by offering a pay-as-you-feel children’s menu, with all ingredients being supplied by Real Junk Food Manchester.
Given that Real Junk Food Manchester has sustainability at it’s heart, the new pop-up restaurant will be as upcycled as can be. The project has worked with CHR Food Equipment Services to put an open letter out to CEDA (Catering equipment distributors association) members. CHR have asked catering equipment companies to donate equipment that has gone unused, or support the project however they can.
CHR have also donated project management services to support the installation of the kitchen, and have given all of their time and energy for free. The restaurant set up and fit out has received in kind and pro bono support from a range of services including interior designers, upcyclers, and even florists. The project aims to demonstrate what a strong community like Manchester can do when we pull together - people before profits.
The project still needs support, and is actively seeking qualified and experienced electrical and plumbing contractors who might be willing to help us to build our restaurant. The team, supported by an army of volunteers, will be spending July and early August sanding and repairing chairs, building a coffee bar from reclaimed wood, and painting and decorating. Anyone who would like to donate some time, energy or materials should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exact dates are still to be confirmed, but a launch party is on the cards, and Manchester is about to
get a whole lot more sustainable (and tasty!).