The exciting restaurant, bar, coffee lounge and cultural space opens in the city centre this summer
A former railway goods warehouse on Ducie Street is currently being transformed into a new social and cultural destination for the city.
The space, located in the renovated Ducie Street Warehouse (formerly The Place Hotel), right behind Piccadilly station, will house a restaurant, bar, communal lounge and coffee counter, plus flexible events spaces with outdoor terraces and a cinema, and is expected to open in July.
Our job is not to tell Manchester what’s interesting, it’s to create a space for the people of the city to tell us.
Pablo Flack and David Waddington, founders of London restaurant BISTROTHEQUE, are the brains behind the project to bring this new all-purpose city centre hangout to Manchester.
But unlike other venues that have opened in recent years, CULTUREPLEX is not the result of a business from the capital simply seeking to plant their flag up north.
Pablo hails from Huddersfield and David was brought up in rural Settle, so both are northerners who were heavily influenced by Manchester’s legendary music and club scene as art students.
They met in the 1990’s during a rave at a service station (true story) – part of a secondary club scene, as people travelled to and from venues from across the north – and eventually opened BISTROTHEQUE in 2004, when East London was far from being the hipster hotspot it is today.
The pair are known for delivering unconventional and innovative projects and were arguably the first people to put the words ‘pop-up’ and ‘restaurant’ together in 2006, with four major temporary projects: The Reindeer, FLASH, Studio East Dining and King’s Cross Filling Station. In 2013 they created Hoi Polloi for Ace Hotel London Shoreditch.
BISTROTHEQUE projects have won two coveted D&AD Yellow Pencils, a RIBA Small Project Award, Time Out Local Favourite, Tatler Best Room and the London Restaurant Festival Award for Innovation.
"The idea of CULTUREPLEX had been kicking around in my mind for a while," says Pablo. "But the space is just the starting point, what it becomes will be determined by the people that interact with it. Our job is not to tell Manchester what’s interesting, it’s to create a space for the people of the city to tell us."
So what do we know?
Ducie Street Warehouse, unlike traditional hotel developments, will house three independent businesses: a design led apartment hotel by Native; BLOK, a boutique fitness studio which promises to introduce a range of new fitness classes to Manchester, and CULTUREPLEX, which will take up the ground floor of the building. This floor will be akin to a public square, housing a vast central all-day space to work, lounge and dine.
CULTUREPLEX is better thought of as a more experimental space for cultural events, with community arts projects and local talent at its core. Katie Popperwell, experienced Manchester-based creative producer, has been appointed programme director to oversee a quarterly themed programme of events and new commissions across film, performance, visual arts and craft.
In response to the changing cultural infrastructure of Manchester, CULTUREPLEX will seek to support the local creative sector through structured workshops and training for freelancers, as well as a space to encourage new opportunities to make and display work. The space will also house a highly specced ‘Mini Cini’ cinema and three adaptable meeting and event spaces for private gatherings.
There are three layers to the food and drink offering at CULTUREPLEX. Amidst the industrial pillars will sit Klatch, a coffee counter, serving fresh, healthy (ish) toasties, cakes, salads and juices by day, followed by natural wines and craft beer by night.
Eating and drinking in the lounge promises to be ‘informal, democratically priced and well executed’ with the all day menu in the form of a ‘CULTUREPLEX newspaper’ divided into morning, afternoon and evening table service.
Finally, along the rear arched elevation will be BISTROTHEQUE, CULTUREPLEX’s 80-seater restaurant. BISTROTHEQUE’s ethos is to offer good, uncomplicated, bistro food, drink and service with common sense and good taste, and the Manchester offshoot will be no different.
BISTROTHEQUE will be open for dinner seven days a week and a brunch offering at weekends, with all menus overseen by the exacting eye of chef director Blaine Duffy, who will head up the expansive open kitchen.
CULTUREPLEX is due to launch alongside the rest of Ducie Street Warehouse in July 2019.