If you told someone a year ago that you were going for a drink under the Mancunian Way flyover, you’d probably get a funny look to say the least.
But the last few months has seen a remarkable development take place on Oxford Road, near All Saints Park – a series of colourful shipping containers piled on top of each other that looks a little like giant tetris.
Hatch is one of Manchester’s newest leisure and retail pop-up spaces and it pulls out plenty of surprises, including a fully stocked bar. Two bars, actually – TAKK Espresso Bar and Öl Nano brewery and bar.
It provides a space for local businesses, offering shopping during the day and food and drink into the evening.
Despite the small space, they’ve already started a series of live events which have featured music and open mic slots upstairs in the brewery and the courtyard too.
Cute podlike shops already open for you to visit include Love + Labour selling real wine from real winemakers, The Beehive offering a selection of fresh arranged flowers, gifts, and custom artwork, and murals from Manchester artist Lee Hartley.
And there’s Nonsense – a store of carefully curated products from across the world including ceramics, plants and some brilliant books.
These businesses are finally bringing small independent retailers to a stretch of Oxford Road that isn’t renowned for its shopping. If you work or study in this part of town, you’ll probably know the pain of having to trek into the city centre, especially when you’re shopping for gifts.
Foodie options include Well Hung kitchen who specialise in high quality, affordable meat dishes, real Jamaican street food from Eat & Sweet and El Marchador Tacos, bringing Mexican vibes and a fully plant-based menu.
Even more shopping and snacking opportunities are coming, including stars of oriental street food Dim Sum Su and the official Parklife pop-up store which is launching with a free party on 16 March.
You can see where the inspiration for Hatch came from. Developed by Bruntwood, it’s operated by the team that manages Northern Quarter retail institution Afflecks, which has been successfully championing creative, independent traders for years.
“Hatch is about developing a ‘neighbourhood’ feel on Oxford Road by bringing people together through a shared love of food, shopping and socialising,” says head of Bruntwood retail Toby Sproll.
“With Hatch, we wanted to create a vibrant communal space – somewhere that had a real energy about it and provided a new eating and retail experience, not only for the students, residents and workers in and around the Oxford Road corridor but for anyone visiting the city.
“Hatch will play an integral role in the wider Circle Square community we’re developing – acting as an incubator for innovative start-ups, and emerging entrepreneurs who are looking to expand their offering or be part of something exciting and different.”
Blue Caribou Canteen, who are famed for their poutine which puts to shame the cheese and chips you’ve probably scoffed on Oxford Road on a night out, were looking to develop their business and reckon Hatch is the perfect spot to incubate it and grow a regular customer base.
And Hatch is set to grow.
“We’re already talking to a number of exciting traders for phase 2 of the scheme, which will see us grow the site with an additional 18 units and we’re focused on making sure we get the right mix of makers, operators, innovators and start-ups in, to ensure Hatch becomes a ‘must visit’ destination and a lively community hub that people want to be a part of.”
A range of pop-up and semi-permanent retail fixtures are available – five retail units from 80 – 240 sq ft and four spaces for food and drink outlets at 80 sq ft – meaning that you’ll be able to buy from a changing selection of creatives and entrepreneurs. And it offers flexible and affordable licenses which allow local businesses to stay for a duration which suits them.
“What we have on offer at Hatch will continually evolve, drawing people back time and time again,” says Toby.
So watch this space.