A new bar is to open in Manchester city centre as part of a new development by hospitality entrepreneur Phil Healy.
The former Avalanche Bar & Restaurant site on the corner of Booth Street and Tib Lane will reopen in November after a £1 million refurbishment as Lily’s Bar in the basement and 1761 restaurant on the ground floor.
Healy, a former hotelier, also operates The Victoria Lounge in Glossop, Derbyshire, to the east of Manchester. The property deal was brokered by Tim Martin at leisure property specialist Fleurets which marketed the free-of-tie lease.
Lily’s Bar in the basement has been designed to create “the sense of stepping back in time” and an escape from the city above. Welcoming, luxurious and cosy, it will offer champagne and luxurious cocktails, especially champagne cocktails.
Drinks will take the theme of “a moment in time” with each one inspired by a story from the past, such as Sparkling Cyanide named after the classic detective novel by Agatha Christie.
The room will be surrounded by a huge 18,000-litre fish tank. The bar will also feature Lily’s Library – a secret drinking den available for private hire complete with its own bar, projector and fireplace.
The ground floor will be occupied by 1761, a 130-cover restaurant offering modern British food, from corned beef hash to cockles as well as oysters. It is due to open on November 13.
Inspired by Manchester’s industrial past, the date and site’s name, 1761, marks what is considered the start of the Industrial Revolution in Manchester when the Duke of Bridgewater’s canal reached Castlefield.
Phil said: “I wanted to create something that is truly of this city. For me the whole concept of 1761 is something that has come from Manchester, in Manchester, for Manchester.
“It’s not cheesy or themed but about creating a real feeling of pride and warmth for this city. Or of course people can just come to see the fishes!”
Phil’s team will include bar manager Jon Kloman who was previously at Greater Manchester bars such as Elixir Tonics & Treats, The Alchemist Spinningfields and Corridor.
Jon said: “1761 is very much about the city’s identity and culture, whereas Lily’s is based a lot more around ‘The Golden Era’ – a place where you can loose yourself for hours. Having researched into different historical movements and artistic cultures we will deliver moments in time which will resonate with customers, using abstract references to help tell a story. This combined with full table service in a relaxed atmosphere will give the customer an experience to remember, for sure.”
The general manager will be Emma Greathead, who has worked most recently for Beautiful Drinks, operator of Almost Famous and Home Sweet Home in Manchester, and the head chef will be Oliver Walker.
Original plans to include stingrays in the giant tank have been dropped after media coverage brought feedback from people worried about the fish living in captivity. “Listening to Manchester’s comments across social media we have decided not to have stingrays in our fish tank,” Phil explained. “Even though the tank will be huge and we are confident that it would provide the right amount of space for the rays to thrive – it will have 118,000 litres of water – we don’t wish to upset or offend anyone and can see that there are people who would object. So this was the right choice for us.”
Updated October 23, 2017 with reference to stingrays and Jon Kloman’s quote.