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CLOSED: Room Restaurant First Casualty Of 2015

Just about the most beautiful space in Manchester dining turns out the lights

Written by . Published on January 13th 2015.


CLOSED: Room Restaurant First Casualty Of 2015
 

ALL the lines of communication are down, the website has vanished like a puff of smoke and an insider has confirmed the demise of perhaps the most beautiful dining space in the city.

"Once the manager was moved to Harrogate it all went downhill and staff started jumping ship."

Room Restaurant in the old Reform Club at the top end of King Street - run by the Harrogate-based HRH Group - has gone dark.

Despite some excellent food, a good bar and that jaw-dropping interior, the last few years have seen the under-financed restaurant struggle. 

Anybody with eyes to see could spot that things haven't been right recently, the shaky staircase, toilets and entrance area in particular were in desperate need of updating.

The closure is a shame for the city and a tragedy for the staff who as far as Confidential is concerned always provided warm hospitality. Best of luck to them.

Room closed on King StreetRoom has closed on King Street

Confidential spoke to a former employee of the restaurant who, along with a number of colleagues, chose to leave the restaurant in recent months: "The Harrogate head office simply did not have a clue about the Manchester restaurant scene," the person told us. "When they did make a small refurb investment it just wasn't enough to compete. The former-General Manager and the staff had been keeping that place going for years, without them the place would have failed ages ago. Once the manager was moved to Harrogate it all went downhill and staff started jumping ship.

"The staff had no idea they'd lost their jobs until they turned up today (Monday 12 January), which is awful considering the company had been in the day before to strip the place. That building deserves more."

RoomRoom's beautiful interior

The building began life as the Reform Club in a style called Venetian Gothic in 1871. The mad piece of High Victoriana has wild turrets on the two front corners, sculptured panels, granite pillars and carvings writhing all over its surface. Its architect was Edward Salomons. It was built as the city headquarters for the Liberal Party. On the first floor is a balcony from which such figures as William Gladstone, Winston Churchill and Lloyd George spoke.

Behind the balcony is the magnificent dining room of the club with its huge oak ceiling. Several years ago this became the notorious Reform Restaurant, an extravagant exercise in good food swilled down with buckets of champagne. After an encouraging start, Reform gained a troubled reputation. Room restored the reputation.

Confidential thinks this is too good a site to remain empty for long. Let's just hope an aspirational restaurant will occupy the site not some off the peg number with scant regard for the beauty of the place.

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70 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

mike_aJanuary 12th 2015.

Such a shame about this place and more so the people who have lost their jobs. Hopefully a decent operator will take this place and it'll reopen again soon.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2015.

Use 'em or lose em. Everybody who will say how much they love room etc, ask yourself when the last time you ate there was.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
rinkydinkJanuary 12th 2015.

November when it had an air of decay about it. I thought it was ok but will be far better as a new Prezzo or Wagamama

Matt BradyJanuary 13th 2015.

Went in December and although the food tasted good, it was a bit shambolic. I think 5 tables came in, sat down then walked out without buying anything just whilst we were sat there. Shame.

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

I've been about 5 or 6 times for food, plus 2 or 3 times for drinks in the 2nd half of 2014... Gutted. Was a great restaurant and bar - one of Manchester's best.

JimJanuary 12th 2015.

Nice place but thinking about it I've not been for a year. There's too much competition in that area now and they've not upped their game to compete with Rosso, Browns, jamie Oliver's etc. Sad to see them go but hopefully someone decent will take over the place now

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 12th 2015.

Rosso, Browns and Jamie Oliver's? Oh dear they weren't setting the bar very high then. No surprise to seem them go if that's the case.

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

Rosso has been losing money for years.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2015.

When I visited three years ago I really wasn't impressed. Everyone there thought it was much better than it was and the service was very blasé. This is not a surprise to me but I wish everyone well in their future endeavours.

Hero
Mark SyddallJanuary 12th 2015.

Gutted we loved it and went three or four times a year

Hero
RevaulxJanuary 12th 2015.

Beautiful interior marred by really horrid decorating. The ceiling of the smaller/private dining room mutilated by an air conditioning unit. Food very good at its best but hopelessly inconsistent. Surprised it's lasted this long, but sorry for the staff, at least some of whom were making a real effort

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2015.

Amazing building hope Jason atherton opens a social up north

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

He seems to be opening up new places all over the world but nothing north of Watford.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2015.

Not surprised after an awful meal there 2 weeks ago!

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2015.

The equally beautifully decorated Taurus in the Village has closed down too. The new owners don't have a licence yet so the landlords have changed the locks and the staff are without pay.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
rinkydinkJanuary 12th 2015.

Beautifully decorated? You're having a laugh surely

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

TAURUS closed? Décor was NOT that great!!!

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

Landlords don't change locks because a tenant doesn't have a licence; they change locks because people haven't paid the rent. Who are the new owners? Have Ian & Co gone? Taurus say they're closed for 2 weeks for 'noise abatement work' on Twitter?.. Any ManConers know anything about this?

AnonymousJanuary 17th 2015.

The new owners were going to keep Ian on but Polly has left.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2015.

It always felt to me like the restaurant was secondary to the bar when it should be the other way around. Strong rumours that there are plans for it anyway and apparently quite good plans.

Poster BoyJanuary 12th 2015.

It will never work as 'just another restaurant'.

Kaylegh JarvisJanuary 13th 2015.

So my wedding is booked in Room for September this year. Deposits were paid last year and yet I've not even been contacted. Found out on Facebook! Gutted and annoyed at the same time!

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

Hopefully you paid some of it by credit card. You can get it back through your card provider if so.

AnonymousJanuary 14th 2015.

No offence but if the staff found out on Monday at the same time as the press I don't think that they would have been able to contact you, let alone get in the building. They've also lost their jobs. You will have to contact the owners of the restaurant about that...

AnonymousJanuary 14th 2015.

John dyer

Kelly AngusJanuary 14th 2015.

Hi Kaylegh, I am sorry to hear about your wedding this year. I am Kelly and 1 am the Weddings manager at the Belle Epoque in Knutsford which is a really unique venue. We may be able to help with your wedding and if you want to give me a call we can have a chat. Many thanks Kelly 01565 633060

Kaylegh JarvisJanuary 14th 2015.

I understand it must be awful for the staff and I am in no way blaming them, they are victims as well. Surely though there were people who made the decision to close the restaurant who could have informed people with bookings & refunded their payments ather than running away with thousands of pounds that isn't theirs!

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

I seriously doubt the ability of an independent restaurant to afford the astronomical rent charged by Bruntwood for a mouse infested, under invested, massive space.

Sophie DevaultJanuary 13th 2015.

My wedding is also booked there for 24th May! Again deposit paid and will now be frantically trying to find somewhere else at very short notice! Does anyone at ManCon have a contact number fur the HRH group head office as I can't find anything online. Thanks

6 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

The Head office is based @ The White Hart Harrogate i think.

Staff
David BlakeJanuary 13th 2015.

Try here Sophie: www.hrhgroup.co.uk/contact…

Liz SimpsonJanuary 13th 2015.

White Hart,Harrogate. You need to ask for John Dyer. We're in same situation with my daughter's wedding which was booked with them for Good Friday. John Dyer said he would contact me again and will be refunding deposit....let's see!

Kelly AngusJanuary 14th 2015.

Hi Sophie, we are sorry to hear this news. I am Kelly the Weddings Manager from the Belle Epoque in Knutsford which is a truly unique venue. We may be able to help with your wedding and please do give me a call if you need any assistance. Kind regards Kelly 01565 633060

Richard SullivanJanuary 14th 2015.

Ring the White Hart Hotel in Harrogate and ask for Sarah Carter. She is co-ordinating the refund processing albeit she said they could only 100% confirm this by the end of the week. Cheers.

AnonymousJanuary 14th 2015.

@Kelly Angus I assume the 'help' you're offering Sophie won't be free? Regardless, a marriage certificate is a legally binding contract of the state between two people. Why bring the government into your relationship? The only people that benefit from that contract is the government, solicitors and the wedding industry. Use the money that will be spent on your wedding to pay a chunk off your mortgage or on home improvement instead. That's a real investment in your future. Your wedding isn't.

J. RizzaJanuary 13th 2015.

I would be happy if Aumbry went in there. Extremely unlikely they would be able to afford the rent though. Shame.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

The size of the place may make it difficult to keep up the standard. I think the old Bacchanalia on Chapel Walks would be good for Aumbry.

Victoria SquiresJanuary 13th 2015.

I'd love Aumbry to move in there. A real destination restaurant to put Manchester on the map. Bet it'll be another Pizza Express though...

AnonymousJanuary 14th 2015.

I like Aumbry, but it's hardly going to 'put Manchester on the map'. The French and Manchester House are better restaurants.

ChrisJanuary 13th 2015.

Last time I went for food there it was probably one of the worse meals I've ever eaten. A couple of people on the table ordered a fillet steak which was £35 and I don't think it came with a side, Gaucho don't even charge that. They messed the steaks up anyway, so they weren't paid for. Great building though and I have enjoyed drinks there a few times, but that restaurant…shocking.

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

Great venue for a 'dirty' burger bar?

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

oooh that'd be nice.

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

Yeah one where they gob in your burger and only employ GCSE failures and bag heads for that special touch.

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

Yeah because we haven't got enough of those yet.

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

What a shame, feel bad for everyone affected. Let's hope someone comes in with something a bit different for Manchester (I love 'dirty' food and I don't have any issues with chains - but we're saturated with both, let's have something a bit different now please!!)

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

Far more of a bar than a restaurant for me, overpriced & distinctly average food was not a good combination. Will miss the place as a watering hole, always a good start to a night.

Hero
Dom77January 13th 2015.

Fantastic space that deserves to be inhabited by a restaurant that knows what it's doing - mediocre food, poor service and trying too hard to be a trendy night spot.

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

just hope its an independent and not another chain...

Jemma FieldingJanuary 13th 2015.

Another burger restaurant to come then??

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

So you didn't bother to read the comments above then?

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

This is really sad as it was one of my favourite restaurants and I've never had a bad experience there. It was a fantastic building with a great interior. I took a party of 25 in the main restaurant in June and we couldn't fault it. I had drinks in the bar in December with several friends and the atmosphere and staff were great. A sad loss to Manchester.

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

needed to decide if wanted to be a bar or a restaurant or at least separate the two! Went in for a meal one Saturday night in the summer it was only about 7pm but the music was so loud even the waitress struggled to hear us, seems to be the trend though to have a DJ playing very loud music whilst people are eating & trying to have conversations!...or maybe im just getting old!

QuokkaJanuary 13th 2015.

Ate here once a few years ago and the portion size was ridiculously small. I vowed never to return. A friend went just before Xmas and said he felt the same. Lovely premises, I hope someone fills it and does it justice.

Andy JonesJanuary 13th 2015.

Big shame, was a lovely space with great inventive cocktails and (by the sounds of it until recently) food, a bit different to the chains. Always thought the bar should have been sent backwards to make that bigger and reduce the restaurant, as it took ages to get served with the cocktails orders and surely they made higher profits on the drinks compared to the food. Stay away Pizza Express.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 14th 2015.

Yes, stay away Pizza Express. I read somewhere their cost price for a basic pizza is about 50p (plus staff, running costs etc.) so they'll want their grubby hands on this!

AnonymousJanuary 14th 2015.

They have just leased across the road

Andy JonesJanuary 13th 2015.

Big shame, was a lovely space with great inventive cocktails and (by the sounds of it until recently) food, a bit different to the chains. Always thought the bar should have been sent backwards to make that bigger and reduce the restaurant, as it took ages to get served with the cocktails orders and surely they made higher profits on the drinks compared to the food. Stay away Pizza Express.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
David TraynorJanuary 14th 2015.

Yes, stay away Pizza Express. I read somewhere their cost price for a basic pizza is about 50p (plus staff, running costs etc.) so they'll want their grubby hands on this!

rinkydinkJanuary 14th 2015.

They have just leased across the road

EllieJanuary 13th 2015.

Sorry for all the staff. The building is magnificent and of historical importance. Let's hope something/somebody soon occupies it once again. Elaine

Lisa SolmanJanuary 13th 2015.

I had my wedding here three years ago and the organisation and service on and leading up to the day was pretty shambolic to be fair. I just fell in love with the venue itself which is perfect for a city centre wedding. I hope the new owners continue offering it as a wedding venue, and do a better job than the previous management!

food for thoughtJanuary 13th 2015.

It's a shame, I used to work there and we gain third rosettes 5 years ago then head chef and managers moved away and it went down the hill since, mice will be happy though

1 Response: Reply To This...
WodkaJanuary 20th 2015.

especially the one living in a Hobart!

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

Like Lisa I had my wedding at Room in 2011 but our experience was the reverse. The organisation from Jamie the manager was great and everything went brilliantly on the day. I would agree that it has real potential as a wedding venue as it is a unique city centre venue. Best of luck to all the staff who have lost their jobs.

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

Received anything but 'warm service' last Saturday when hoping to take advantage of the fixed price menu prominently displayed on their website. Advised on arrival that it was a la carte or nothing. Complaint was greeted with a shrug of the shoulders and "it's the parent company's fault". At the point the 'manager' said "I'll just check our website" I knew it was time to leave. Clearly, a busted flush.

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

Sad news but if anybody wants great tasting food with immaculate presentation and a warm friendly atmosphere, just head down King Street to 47 King Street West :) they will certainly look after you.

Frank WalkerJanuary 13th 2015.

Only been going in Room for four months ( regular at Zinc ), found the staff so warm and friendly, the food great value, the decor must be one of Manchesters hidden gems, just hope that whoever takes over will keep the original decor, long may you survive ( and good luck to all the staff )

Wendy SinnottJanuary 13th 2015.

Gutted about this news we got married there in August 2010 Jamie and his team were second to none,food,service,hospitality,everything!I really wish Jamie and everybody who has worked with him the best of luck,so sad.

AnonymousJanuary 14th 2015.

Fabulous place for after work drinks but the dining was awful. This should be turned into a full bar, excellent interior shamed to be wasted. Living ventures needs to get in there!

Jane WeightmanJanuary 28th 2015.

There was never enough sound insulation between the bar and the restaurant. DJ nights were a real pain as a diner. The food and decor were eclectic and the gourmet evenings splendid but the bar distractions proved too much and we stopped going.Sad. john and jane Weightman

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