Manchester hotel enlists partners for new restaurant and bar

Luke Cowdrey Justin Crawford

A new bar is to open at the landmark Palace Hotel in Manchester in a partnership with the operators of the city’s award-winning Volta restaurant.

The hotel’s owner, Starwood Capital’s Project 1898, is bringing in Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford (pictured), the two DJs who founded Volta in West Didsbury in 2013 and Electrik Bar in Chorlton in 2009.

They plan a new open-plan restaurant, bar and lobby “experience” in the space that was formerly the Tempus restaurant, drawing on the pair’s experiences as both DJs and restaurateurs.

They will be working with leading consultancy Gorgeous Group to formalise the menu, name and concept over the coming months with the food and beverage brand set to be revealed in the summer.

Luke said: “We’re thrilled to come on board and launch this new chapter in The Palace’s history. It’s very exciting – this sleeping giant has been lying dormant and now it will be awakened.

“It’s an incredible challenge for Justin and me. We can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in. We want to create something that the city has never really seen before, an all-day eating and drinking experience in a stunning iconic space which will unite all the clans in Manchester.

“We’re not interested in a contrived formal fine dining experience with no bustle. We want something with energy and effervescence where the food experience is serious but never forced or stiff. Something with soul.”

Matt Townley, manager of the hotel in Oxford Street, added: “Manchester has been waiting for a partnership like this for a while now and we’re delighted that our newly refurbished hotel will be able to provide it.

“Justin and Luke are hugely respected, not only in Manchester but also in the UK. We believe they will enable us not only to serve food that is delicious and distinctive, but also to express our ‘local at heart’ values across food, drink and music.

“By combining their experience in dining and the world of DJs, music, international festival and club promotion, we’re paving the way for a dining revolution and can’t wait for the new offering to launch.”

The hotel’s refurbishment is leading to 121 jobs being created. Justin and Luke will be working with the hotel team to appoint and develop the team for the new restaurant and bar. Current vacancies can be found at or using the hashtag #localgreats.

Built as the headquarters for the Refuge Assurance Company in 1895 and extended in 1912, The Palace is undergoing major renovations ahead of its launch as a new “urban lifestyle” hotel brand later in the year.

Project 1898 follows the acquisition of PH Hotels, De Vere Venues and Four Pillars Hotels by Starwood Capital and describes a capital investment of more than £200m in the creation of a new British hospitality company with “great British hotels that are local at heart”.

The new hotel company will launch in late summer 2016 as two separate city and country hotel brands. The new city “lifestyle” division will launch with The Palace as well as The George in Edinburgh – home to The Printing Press bar and restaurant – and The Royal York in York.

As the renovation programme continues, other hotels will be brought into the group, including the Hotel Russell in Russell Square in London. Starwood Capital has also acquired the former Martins Bank headquarters in Liverpool with the intention of adding it to the new portfolio of urban lifestyle hotels.

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