Collaboration has become a bit of an overused buzzword in recent times. Go into some offices and even the the colour of a new carpet can be a ‘collaborative’ decision between management and employees. Yawn.
But as far as Grub’s opening at Mayfield today is concerned – a huge piece of news for independents – collaboration really has been the key.
From their first event curating traders for Cup North in 2015 to running events in partnership with brewers like Track and Squawk to their residency at Runaway and Alphabet Brewery, Grub have paired themselves with equally passionate producers to put on events that promote the great work of small, independent producers.
Grub Food Fair at Mayfield will be six street food traders, together with a bar made up exclusively of northern craft breweries, welcoming a new era of street food in Manchester feeding long-time Grubsters as well as new admirers.
The shipping containers will provide a DIY and somewhat familiar feel for this kind of event but, make no mistake, there are big plans in the pipeline for the Mayfield site which is planned to develop over the next 10 years.
We asked Grub founder Jason Bailey what we can expect.
When you started at Cup North, did you have plans for the partnership with locals breweries like Runaway and ABC and did you envisage a permanent home at one of Manchester’s most exciting developments?
In short, yes! For two reasons really. Firstly we were serious in our efforts to work with as many local, independent food and drink operators in an effort to promote and support that scene in the hope that we could help it grow.
Secondly, there was an obvious win for breweries and us for Grub to both use their smashing industrial spaces when they’re not using it whilst we got their beer in the gobs of food fans.
As far as ending up at such a high profile development such as Mayfield, no we didn’t expect it. We’d spent some time looking for our own permanent home but we’d envisaged it to be another industrial space hidden away on the outskirts of the city, somewhere that would need to be built up again over time.
So we were just as surprised as anybody when we were thrust in to the spotlight by being offered this amazing space which is the first step in a development that we honestly believe will be a huge win for Manchester.
Does Grub at Mayfield plug a street food shaped gap Manchester has been lacking, particularly when compared to places like Leeds?
For sure. Street food in Manchester has had its ups and downs. We’ve had quality traders, but events have come and gone over the last few years so it’s never had the opportunity to grow to something more permanent and regular.
We’re a massive city and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have as big a street food scene as other similar northern cities. Leeds is great for street food but I’ve got to say we’ve used Digbeth Dining Club in Birmingham as our yardstick for success. Those guys have been putting quality events on week in week out for years and have become a solid institution. With us moving to 2 or 3 days a week I don’t think we’re too far behind those fellas now.
What will be the most noticeable difference at Mayfield for punters who attended ABC and Runaway?
There’s really only two things that are going to change. We’re still going to have the same festival atmosphere, the food is still going to be top notch and everyone is going to have a lovely time.
As far as the bar offering goes, we’ll now have more opportunity to widen the options so not only will be using all the best breweries in Manchester and the north, we’ve also got a smashing wine list now and we’ve started stocking more local distilleries.
It will feel a step closer to a full bar and less of a pop-up space. And that’s the second thing that’s going to change. It was always exciting to throw parties in breweries, everybody loved it, but we’re now moving to a purpose-built space, so luxuries like heating and proper toilets are possible and we’re lucky enough to be homed at the foot of one of the most exciting, historic buildings in Manchester, the Mayfield Depot, so people are still really excited to pay us a visit.
It’s a three year pop-up. How do you see Grub changing over that time?
The 3 year pop-up is actually the expected life span of the container village. It may well end up being there a bit longer but Grub itself might not be there for the entirety of that period. We’re already looking at our next step for not only Grub but also new events focusing more on supporting the musicians, artists and producers of Manchester. We want Grub to be an institution. I don’t think we’ll stop feeding people for a very long time.