Escape to Freight Island considering expansion beyond Manchester

By Shwetali Sapte

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Instagram @escapetofreightisland
Image: Instagram @escapetofreightisland

Related tags: Escape to Freight Island, Street food, Food Hall, Manchester

Award-winning food concept Escape to Freight Island is considering expansion outside of its Manchester homeland.

Speaking at BigHospitality’s R200 Conference,​ held earlier this month, managing director Dan Morris said he believed there was potential for the concept in other UK cities.

“We want to see if we can replicate what we’ve done…that energy works everywhere,” he said. “In the last two years, we’ve understood who we are.”

The 55,000sq ft Escape to Freight Island venue, located in a former freight depot, has a 3,000-capacity and welcomes between 10,000 and 15,000 visitors per week. Opened in early 2020 it “was born from the pandemic essentially” according to Morris.

The venue, which is part of the wider regeneration of Depot Mayfield in Manchester, has won numerous plaudits for combining high quality food operators with bars and music events. It also hosts cabaret nights and ran a winter market and ice rink over the Christmas period.

Food traders include One Star Döner Bar​ from Michelin-starred chef Brad Carter; taco player Madre; pizza brand Voodoo Ray’s; and premium éclair purveyor Choo Choo as well as Baratxuri, a live-fire Basque restaurant that sits that the heart of the venue.

“The idea is to enjoy all of these different elements while still getting the core proposition of good food and drink,” said Morris.

“We have a hitlist of different brands, operators, and chefs that we curate ourselves…any multi-concept operator has to remain close to providing something new and something reliable for the customer.”

The wide variety of activities and experiences at the venue speak to its founders, who include the team behind Volta and The Refuge, with a background in music and festivals. The combination of different players is what allowed the venue to successfully layer different elements, according to Morris.

“We felt it was useful to showcase operators that reflect what we are, who we are.”

Having established itself in Manchester, the team is keen to expand the concept to other cities with the north of England or the Midlands the most likely place for a second venue. It also intends to continue to experiment with its offering at its Manchester site,

“If you sit back and stay where you are and don’t innovate at all in terms of the offer, you’re going to struggle,” Morris added.

 

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Related topics: Street Food

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