Global restaurateur returns to Manchester to talk about brand loyalty, marketing and human contact

Sheffield born Jason Atherton, one of the UK’s most successful global restaurateurs, is to headline this year’s Bruntwood Debate at Northern Restaurant & Bar (NRB).

NRB, the North's hospitality exhibition, will return to Manchester Central on 19-20 March 2019, bringing the entire Northern hospitality industry together for two days of networking, discovery and inspiration. 

275 exhibitors will be there to show off every product and service a hospitality business needs, from time-saving tools, to the latest in technology. 

A variety of chefs and local producers will also be there offering practical advice and inspiration during 65 live food and drink demos across various event stages.

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The Northern Restaurant and Bar show will have 275 exhibitors

Atherton, who was head chef at Manchester’s legendary Northern Quarter restaurant, bar and micro-brewery, Mash & Air, in the ‘90s, has since gone on to build a global restaurant empire. Atherton started out working alongside great chefs including Pierre Koffmann, Marco Pierre White, Nico Ladenis and Ferran Adria at el Bulli, before joining the Gordon Ramsay Group in 2001.

After launching Maze, Jason left to launch his own flagship restaurant, Pollen Street Social, which was awarded a coveted Michelin star within just six months of opening. His restaurant group, The Social Company, now includes four Michelin-starred restaurants and a total of sixteen across three continents, seven countries and eight cities.

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Thom Hetherington with Fred Sirieix at last year's debate

Talking to NRB founder Thom Hetherington, the pair will discuss the secret behind this Northern chef’s stratospheric success as well as finding out more about his role as principal patron for Hospitality Action.

“Mash & Air was one of my first serious eating experiences” Hetherington reminisces. “I have followed Jason’s career through Maze and Pollen Street Social and watched his incredible evolution from chef to a restaurateur delivering success across the globe. I’m fascinated to discuss what makes him tick and keeps him pushing on - and whether he misses the North of course.”

The debate will also feature an expert marketing panel chaired by Lucy Noone-Blake ready to discuss how restaurant brands and businesses build loyalty and ensure their share of the marketplace in a digital world. Speakers include Libby Andrews of Pho, Russell Danks of Punch Taverns, Oisin Rogers from The Guinea Grill and Andy Windsor of Mission Mars. Topics will include how to bridge the gap between an online presence and driving actual footfall, and whether social media really is more valuable than human contact in what is still very much a ‘people business’. 

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Lucy Noone-Blake will chair this year's Bruntwood NRB debate

This year’s debate will be sponsored for the second year by leading property developer Bruntwood who own over 100 properties across Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds.

“The Bruntwood NRB Debate is an unmissable centrepiece of the action,” said Andrea George, Head of Retail Leasing, Bruntwood. “It’s an event that really gets under the skin of some of the industry's most challenging and relevant issues. We're pleased to be sponsoring the NRB Debate as restaurants, cafes and bars are absolutely central to our ambition of creating brilliant places to live and work. 

“A huge part of our ethos at Bruntwood is nurturing small and independent food and drink business with a mutual benefit of creating great destinations, and so supporting Northern Restaurant & Bar with its diverse range of attendees is a perfect fit for us.”  

The Bruntwood NRB Debate starts at 12pm on Tuesday 19th March. Tickets are priced £55+VAT (£66) and include a buffet lunch. Book tickets now and save 20% online at using CODE20

Free trade only tickets to the general exhibition are available now at

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