FOOD halls are definitely the rage these days. In the wake of the Altrincham Market and Mackie Mayor success stories came Steve Pilling winning the contract to convert Stockport’s Produce Hall, now the new-build Urmston M41 project came a step nearer thus week.
Next up is a dream for converting Levenshulme's old Sorting Office in Albert Street into a food hall, microbrewery and grocery shop under new plans to bring the building back to life.
Two public meetings are being held on Monday April 9 in the Klondyke Club Lounge to outline the plans, first at 3.30pm to local businesses, then at 6.30 to residents.
The Albert Road site was home to the Post Office Deli until 2015 and briefly to The Buttery cafe, which shut in November, citing the space was too big for a single restaurant.
The aptly named cafe owner and experienced carerer Neil Buttery has bounced back in tandem with Kit and Ellie Knowles, of environmental consultancy Ecospheric, who have bought the building. They estimate their environmentally sensitive transformation could take the rest of the year with early 2019 pencilled in for an opening.
The plan is not to replicate Altrincham Market. Neil (above), who was instrumental in launching the weekly Levy Market, told us: ”You could probably fit 10 units in there but instead we want to put just five in and make each little pod two to three times bigger than somewhere you'd see at the Mackie Mayor or Altrincham Market, so traders can do their prep in there as well.
"We are trying to think of a way of helping people who are maybe doing well with a market stall or pop up restaurant but can't logistically do something bigger because it's quite an expensive endeavour.”
While having a bar and dining opportunities it will be a real food hall to stock up on quality produce. A grocery store and deli selling organic fruit and vegetables will also have shelf space available by the metre for small, local producers to rent and stock their wares.
Add in a microbrewery on site where you can watch the progress and then sup the end product is also in the pipeline.
Levenshulme, according to Neil, has proved a difficult place for street traders to step up into permanent, affordable premises. That was stumbling block for the Market stallholders. So the Sorting Office may help as a halfway house and, the team hope, spark the kind of regeneration seen in Altrincham.
Ecospheric's ethos means that environmental sustainability will be at the core of the development, with no single use plastics and plans to turn food waste into compost to supply local allotments.