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Hip Hop Chip Shop gets permanent Ancoats home

Player Kings

Five years after launching their boombox trailer, the team behind The Hip Hop Chip Shop are opening their first permanent bricks and mortar premises in Ancoats.

Music will be at the core of The Hip Hop Chip Shop Kitchen and Bar, says life-long hip hop fan and owner Jonathan ‘Ozzie’ Oswald.

Work’s still underway ahead of the opening this month but he has a clear vision how he wants the end result to look.

“Like my bedroom used to when I was about 15,” he says.

“There will be lots of rap memorabilia and framed pictures and independent art on the walls. I’m working with the Manchester hip hop archives, creating a chronological database of all the hip hop nights that have happened in Manchester, so printing out a lot of old flyers that are going to be strewn all over the place.”

As for the crowd, he hopes it will appeal to everyone.

Photo: Dan Hough Photography

“Although the name may lend itself to a younger crowd, we often get the most pride and pleasure when people of an older generation eat our food and say it’s some of the best fish and chips they’ve had.”

The founding team includes his girlfriend, “who was in hospitality for various restaurants and bars”, and a close mate who’s a chef “who was working in restaurants gunning for Michelin stars”.

“I look after the sales, marketing, accounting, HR and planning so we’ve got a good spread of the talent pool,” says Ozzie, who thought of the name but assumed someone must’ve beaten him to the moniker.

“They hadn’t, so I bought the website domain and then it took about four years to save the money. We got the catering trailer done as an eighties boombox and played music out of it and travelled around, serving food at weddings and festivals and street markets.”

They’ve also been a regular feature in the piazza at MediaCityUK during the week.

“When you’re in mobile catering, there are plenty of events at the weekend, but weekdays can be quite tough to try and get a spot that has enough footfall to justify it,” explains Ozzie.

“A few years ago, we were saying, ‘We’ve got five days here where we’re not making any money’. We needed to get something local that allows us to do lunchtime trade and give us the potential to work evenings if we need to. That’s our bread and butter, what pays our wage, and then what we do at the weekend makes money for the business.”

Photo: Adam Pester

They’ve raised funds for the new venture via “a complete mish-mash of different ways”.

“We’ve had friends and families giving us loans, and we did crowd funding and that was just basically people paying for a meal for themselves in advance or paying it on to a homeless person. So we’re going to Mustard Tree, which is a local charity in Ancoats, and serving our fish and chips to the people going in there.”

The new restaurant will focus on sit-down trade (“because there are plenty of fish and chip take away opportunities out there”) with around 35 covers and the aim is to make it “as affordable as possible”.

“We’re looking at people coming in and spending £10-15 for a meal and a drink. We’ll use the traditional chippy menu as a blueprint for the restaurant and we’ll try and be one of the best chippies in the country.”

And that’s not just talk.

Photo: Adam Pester

They’ve already won Best Mobile Operator at the National Fish and Chip Awards and Best Street Food at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival Awards.

“We make everything from scratch. We make the batter ourselves, and over the last five years we’ve hand cut every single potato and keep the skins on, double cook them so they’re really crispy but fluffy on the inside. It’s labour-intensive but you’ve got to get your basics right,” says Ozzie.

The quirkily-titled dishes the company’s known for, such as Feastie Boys, Ms Fat Butty and Kiddie Smalls, will remain on the menu.

“It’s going to be a really small menu, not reams of stuff. Quite a spread of fish, a small amount of meat, vegetarian and vegan options, and we’re planning to do a monthly gluten-free day. We don’t want to do it like a fad or trend. All the processes need to be in place so no cross contamination.”

They’re also looking to include a creative space when they open.

“For art installations, documentary or film screenings, and to help support the hip hop community in Manchester,” he says.  “So, if people have got a new album, they can host a listening party or a small, intimate show. We’re also hoping to also have workshops for kids where they can perform for a small crowd too.”

The move’s been over two years in the making so it’s little wonder he and the team are keen to open the doors finally.

“It’ll be good to integrate with the locals that already live in Ancoats, as well as other new people moving there,” says Ozzie. “I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.”

The Hip Hop Chip Shop Kitchen and Bar opens this month at Unit 2, Sawmill Court, Blossom Street, Manchester, M4 6BF.

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