Former Shindigger site gets a new lease of multi-purpose life
Sometimes you choose a space, sometimes a space chooses you. In the case of The New Cross, a new venture taking over the former Shindigger space on Cross Keys Street in Ancoats it was a bit of both.
“We were going to open a takeaway actually. We started doing this right at the beginning of lockdown, we saw that the people who were surviving were the people who were able to sell things out of the door. But also for our sanity, it was good to know we had this space that was adaptable.” The New Cross co-owner, Chris says.
The main thing is we want it to be a neighbourhood bar
That fluidity is now at the core of The New Cross, which is now open as a neighbourhood bar and music venue, serving coffee and pastries in the morning from the aforementioned takeaway counter. Plans for open-fire cooking and a street food offering are set to launch in the coming weeks.
Good beer, parties and open-fire cooking potential
The New Cross is a familiar concept. An open former warehouse space, benches and tables spread throughout, a bar along one side and a kitchen in the back. But as owner Chris points out as he walks us around, the space has a fluidity that lends itself to all sorts.
“The main thing is we want it to be a neighbourhood bar. Not just raving all the time.” Chris says.
Get yourself a venue that can do both, if not more. You can picture it all, sitting there with a pint. At the back of the space is a fully kitted-out kitchen with a wood-fired grill. A counter to the side allowing people to order takeaway-style off the street. Enter through the glass sets of doors at the front or back into the main space, and a bright airy room unfolds taproom style, albeit more refined.
A bar, dressed in bright yellow tiles (one of the more expensive parts of the build), stretches across one side, with the room naturally separated by original metal beams. At the back is a sound system that, if Chris does say so himself, is pretty decent. A modest description, of course.
“It’s a bit rough around the edges, we’ve purposely left it a bit scruffy. I like it that way. People who are into it are into it and we've had really nice feedback from the people who've been. It's been good to see people come, then return again with all their mates.” Chris says.
“It was cold, dark and had an asbestos roof when we walked in. It’s pretty stripped back now, there’s no expensive lighting, no expensive furniture. We’ve got grown-up toilets, a grown-up sound system, grown-up booze and really cool potential for food.”
On the bar, there’s a mixture of premium German lagers like Ayinger on draught with cheaper, more accessible options in the fridge. Big bottles of Tyskie for £4.50, a can of Red Stripe for £4. A selection of wines, cocktails, non-alcoholic options and Prosecco on tap is also available. More wine will follow when the food arrives.
It’s all part of the neighbourhood bar ethos, something for everyone. Husband and wife team Chris and Rachel stress that they wanted somewhere cool and fun. The sort of place that they themselves would go drinking. Dogs are of course welcome.
The endless potential of a post-industrial warehouse space
The duo’s relaxed vision is refreshing. Creativity, the neighbourhood community and a decent party are the core of what they want The New Cross to be. Unsurprisingly, the two are gagging to make use of the shiny new open-fire grill, with a street food menu in the offing. Street food vendors are also encouraged to get in touch for a spot.
“We want Sunday daytime to be a nice vibe in here. The sort of place you might spend the whole day. A few rails of vintage clothes say, some local makers selling some stuff, us making big plates of food, nice drinks and a warm atmosphere. Just a chilled neighbourhood community vibe.” Rachel says.
Music, beer, life drawing and art events are already pencilled in, with Chris suggesting they might screen the World Cup too. With regard to the potential, the room could easily work as a gallery and exhibition space too. The sound system meanwhile has already been complimented by the rotating cast of DJs who have already played.
The duo have already put out a call for creative collaborators on their Instagram.
“We do want people to feel invested in the space and feel like they can use it but we don’t want to give it over completely to private events all the time. We don’t want the people who come in every Wednesday to suddenly find it locked.” Chris says.
In terms of what to expect on the food front. Simplicity is the order of the day. “We’re not aspiring to be fine dining. We just want simple, delicious drinking food really. Posh kebabs and good salads.”
“I think to be honest, when we first came into the building, if we could have just put that [the open fire grill] in the corner, patched up the roof, got a few beer fridges and a sound system in and we would’ve been happy.”
Luckily, there’s that and more now, making for an exciting work in progress worth sniffing out.
The New Cross, 6 Cross Keys St, Manchester M4 5ET
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