Everyone likes cheap eats, and so it is with that in mind that we should all hold hands and join in celebration of the Manchester Arndale food market, which is getting better and better.
Food and drink has become increasingly more important to shopping centre developers in the last few years, as the rise of the sector meant that nearly a quarter of the floor space at major schemes like Trinity Leeds is now devoted to feeding visitors.
At Manchester Arndale, it’s still less than 10 per cent – but the relatively tiny food market is making huge strides.
Places like Pancho’s, Wings and Microbrewery have been firm favourites of a foodie set for a while now, but the emergence of new operators like Viet Shack – who are absolutely hammered every lunchtime – is raising the standards even more, as well as providing something vibrant and different.
They also have a cheese shop called Queen Brie, which is enough of a reason to visit on its own.
Mall owners will understandably go after well-known casual dining chains – and as we know from last week’s column, everyone loves a Nando’s or a Bella Italia every now and again.
But what Manchester Arndale’s food market is showing is that actually, there’s room – and support – for great little independents that need low cost space and a unit the size of a broom cupboard to get started.
So go and spend a lunchtime in the food market. Buy some fresh fruit and veg, some fish you’ve not tried before, have a beer at the microbrewery bar, pick up some street food and enjoy one of Manchester’s most diverse foodie destinations.
And not a Harvester in sight.
As an interesting aside, I’ve been talking to lots of people about students in the last few weeks. Notably international students. The feeling in the city is that as the number of international students increases, the standard of our dining options should get better, as the city’s student crowd moves away from binge drinking to relaxed eating. Places like the Printworks are already seeing it in some of their venues and incoming operators are also drawn to the higher-spend, more food-oriented international fresher. Students acting like adults? What is the world coming to..?