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Green Quarter pop-up incubator aims to give new food businesses the best start in life


A pop-up incubator for up-and-coming food professionals is opening in the Green Quarter.

It’s aimed at anyone who wants to showcase their skills without incurring all the costs associated with setting up by themselves, and is the brainchild of Pete Sheppard, owner of food and drink photography studio RedbankCo.

Pete, who opened RedbankCo four years ago, is taking a unique approach to hosting pop-up restaurants – including how they split the sales.

“I wanted to create an environment that allows the operator to focus on the food and the customer experience, without needing to worry about the setup and operation of running a business,” says Pete.

“I wanted to keep it simple. All food sales go to the pop-up food operator. I don’t think it is fair to ask for a cut of their margin like they do at markets and fairs, or a fee upfront. If they are successful, we are successful. We don’t charge any additional fees for them to run a pop-up night.

“I want to able to host a wide range of pop-up creatives, therefore I don’t want any barriers for them to want to work with us.”

RedbankCo will provide all of the operational support for the pop-up event, from a professionally set-up kitchen and a fully serviced bar offering local craft beers, cocktails and spirits to a flexible venue that can host up to 50 covers, including all crockery for the event.

Pete ran many street food and pop-up ventures before focusing on RedbankCo, which helped motivate him to set up the pop-up incubator.

“I know first-hand all the challenges that new food professionals face when starting on their own,” he admits.

In addition to the operational support, a partnership with foodie agency Artisan Digital means RedbankCo can provide support to pop-ups to help market their events, offering services such as branding, content marketing, website design, social media marketing, event management and email marketing.

“There’s so much to think about starting your own business and it can be really daunting,” says Andrew Kirkcaldy, founder of Artisan Digital.

“Too many great foodie businesses don’t realise their full potential, especially at this grass roots level. I believe a big part of the reason is due to the lack of focus on marketing themselves to the right audience in the right way.

“There’s a lot to think about in terms of PR and marketing, including the digital side. We’ll offer training, from working on their businesses from a branding point of view to digital marketing.

“We thought, ‘how can we help support independent food businesses starting up, making sure that they get the best start in life?’ Other venues might offer the facilities, but we offer this whole package. It’s a very flexible way of supporting the pop-ups.”

The duo hope their tailored support will encourage new independent food businesses who might otherwise be daunted by an already thriving market in Manchester, with new ventures opening every week.

“Starting and building your own business is a scary prospect, and this is made even harder in the catering industry,” says Pete. “New concepts require investment and a wide range of skills to get off the ground.”

The pair are confident that RedbankCo can become a key destination for the burgeoning pop-up restaurant scene in Manchester.

“We are fortunate to have already hosted some of the most exciting foodie pop-up restaurants such as Holy Crab, MIMOD’s Kitchen, Bite Club, The Blue Caribou Canteen and The Spice Club,” says Pete.

While the incubator is initially aimed at local traders, they believe that it might also start to attract national pop-ups as it grows.

“Where we’re different from other street food operators is that this is set up as an incubator with all the support services around it,” says Andrew.

“We can say to pop-ups, ‘you just focus on the food, as that should be the star’. And all the rest around it – whether operationally or marketing – we’ll support.”

The pop-up incubator is good news for customers, who they will get to try a variety of food from different operators.

“We would like to get to the stage where we are running a pop-up event at Redbank at least once a week,” says Kirkcaldy

To find out more about forthcoming pop-up events click here.

RedbankCo is open Thursday/Friday 5pm to 11.30pm, Saturday 10am to 11.30pm, Sunday 10am to 3pm, serving brunch, lunch, coffee, craft beers and cocktails. For more information go to or email [email protected]

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