Blog | Rubbing Shoulders With Retail Royalty
30th May 2016
It’s been a whole nine months since Project Octo made the move to King Street, one of the most prestigious retail, entertainment and business locations in Manchester. The end of May saw the inaugural King Street Festival (28-30 May), so it seemed like a perfect time to take stock and check out the lay of the land…..
As staff of Project Octo, we are regularly part of the fabric of the city, and like to enjoy the restaurants and shops in this fantastic street. With major high street brands like The White Company, Charles Tyrwhitt, Boodles, Karen Millen and Neal’s Yard and many more, there is a great deal to enjoy and peruse in the lunch hour, and after work.
Fashion rubs shoulders with retail, food and drink, with incredible dining experiences like the San Carlo, Bem Brazil and the Grill On The Alley located on and around the street. The good folks of our agency have enjoyed it all, tucking into gluhwein and bratwurst during the busy Christmas markets, and even making Jamie’s Italian the venue for our Christmas party.
The street has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years after reduced occupancy in 2013. Even in the short time we have joined this new wave of occupants, here in our offices, new neighbours like high end restaurants Quill and El Gato Negro have brought renewed vigour to this exciting location, at street level.
Up the street, new places like Hotel Gotham, which opened last year, have returned glamour back to somewhere that was beginning to feel somewhat subdued. As a Manchester resident of many years, it seems like this once highly admired location is gradually renewing and rejuvenating itself.
King Street Festival
This Spring Bank Holiday the King Street Festival that takes place over three days is organised by Manchester’s Business Improvement District, and provides a focal point for this uplift. With live music, street food, children’s play areas, walking tours and much more, it’s a family occasion for both locals and tourists to acquaint themselves with the finest that the city has to offer.
In doing so, the renewed interest in the street continues a tradition which started in the 1700s, when the district first took shape as magnet for prestigious doctors and lawyers. King Street has historically been part of the textile, industrial and banking heart of the city, when it truly made its name during the industrial revolution. Many of those beautifully architectural buildings which were designed by some of Britain’s greatest design minds are now restaurants and fashion boutiques.
As part of our visit to the event, we spoke to Jonathan Schofield, editor at large of Manchester Confidential, writer of many guides about the city, and official city tour guide of 20 years. He was conducting a 50 minute tour of the street and surrounding areas for a large, enthusiastic group, which consisted of locals passionate about history, alongside tourists from far flung locations like Sweden, Columbia and Spain.
“King Street needs to be bold; it needs to change” he told us. “It is changing organically by the fact that banks are now restaurants and hotels. The way they’re going is the right way. Life is being added to the place. We need more food and drink, on Little King Street.”
“Possibly more distinctive independent businesses are the way it can make an offering that stands out from the challenge of the internet, and other things. But it’s such an important part of the history of the city that it needs to continue, and I think the direction it’s taking is great”.