WHEN Aiden Byrne shut up shop for good this Christmas at Restaurant MCR he told ToM his new venture would be just four minutes’ walk away. We never envisaged that journey would be along the Trinity Way inner ring road.
Salford’s historic Black Friar pub has stood as an empty anomaly, dwarfed by the new apartment blocks that have sprung up to fill an industrial wasteland. Now the three floors of this Grade II listed building will be a new more casual home for Aiden’s acclaimed cuisine.
Some £2m is being spent to transform this palatial boozer built by Boddington's Brewery on the corner of Blackfriars Road in 1886. It now finds itself at the heart of the Salboy development
The investment is coming Salboy founder Ismail, and Lee McCarren, of partner construction firm Domis with a ‘significant’ investment from Aiden himself.
Domis will undertake the re-fit, which will restore wood panelling and open fires to the original building while adding a new single level glazed building on the side and a courtyard garden.
The ground floor will serve a casual menu, the first floor a 25 cover fine dining experience (keeping tasting menus, we hope!), served by a top floor kitchen with the potential for a chef’s table dining experience. To man this exciting and varied project due to open late summer subject to planning permission, Aiden may reassemble much of his team from Restaurant MCR (maybe even a veteran of its Manchester House incarnation.
He’s obviously excited about the change of direction, which will be run hands-on in partnership with his wife Sarah (the couple also operate The Church Green at Lymm).
He said: “Simon and Lee are just gorgeous blokes who really wanted this to happen and for it to be the very best. They have been great to deal with. I was introduced to them and was gobsmacked by the quality of work at Blackfriars and their passion for the area.
“It will bring a whole new experience to this part of the city with the ground floor providing the hustle and bustle of casual dining and the pub providing the ‘local’ for Blackfriars.”
Simon said: “We always envisioned a new and exciting use for this historic pub and getting Aiden on board demonstrates our commitment to delivering the very best – whether its new homes or a new restaurant.
“This is an area packed with character with much-loved venues like The Eagle Inn and Blueprint Studios and the reborn Black Friar will add to the mix for the growing number of people living here.”
Indeed The Eagle on Collier Street has just undergone a sympathetic revamp thanks to Holts Brewery. A coming area, as they say. Landlord Esther Maylor has already gone on social media to welcome their “new neighbour – and a fancy one at that”.