Joe Akka, owner of sleb-haunt Panacea, reveals plans for new dragon-festooned restaurant brand Fable

ACCORDING to plans submitted last week, the main hall and basement area of the redeveloped Grade II-listed former Masonic Hall on Bridge Street is to be transformed into an opulent pan-Asian restaurant and bar. 

Fable will offer a mainly Japanese menu in an atmosphere inspired by 'Eastern tales of mysticism and wonder'. London-based architects Shed have drawn up lavish designs featuring  two enormous suspended wingless dragons snaking around the ceiling of the triple height main hall, as well as statues, giant tapestries, mirrors and artwork inspired by ancient Japan. This will all be done with sensitivity to original features such as oak and walnut doors, windows and ornate panelling. Tables and seating will be placed around the central area and plush booth seating is to be fitted between the interior neo-classical columns.

A new bar area, with its own separate entrance, will be built within the present Derby Lodge room and another central feature bar is to be built on top of the terrazzo flooring. If planning is granted, a DJ booth will be installed on a pulpit stand behind a specially designed sculpture of a hand holding a giant carp.

Fable Bar Room
Image of New Bar Area Shed Design

Fable plans to open in spring 2017 – although, since that is fast approaching and they haven’t yet been given the go-ahead, we predict a summer launch is more likely. Panacea founder Joe Akka intends for Fable to be a new Manchester-born restaurant concept with a second location scheduled to open in London and others pencilled in for major international cities across Western Europe, the Middle East and USA.

As we reported here, the former Freemasons Hall was bought in June 2015 by Vision Investments One Ltd who, as part of a £7M investment, has transformed the newly named Manchester Hall into a city centre events venue for conferences and weddings. Plans also include a small boutique hotel and a rooftop terrace bar. Other units in the building have been taken up by various new tenants including Leeds-based tapas restaurant Pintura. Meanwhile, the Freemasons have downsized somewhat and have relocated to the third floor.

Fable Main Hall
Dragon's snaking round the main hall Shed Design