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"It's Not Just Cereal" Says MCR's New Cereal Bar Owner

Black Milk models itself on New York's Momofuku Milk Bar

Written by . Published on February 26th 2015.


"It's Not Just Cereal" Says MCR's New Cereal Bar Owner
 

NOVELTY cafes are currently as hot as wearing no bloomers on the red carpet.

We all know it's no longer about the product and more about sitting somewhere with more exposed bricks than Jewson and Instagramming it to buggery.

There's cafes full of cats, owls, porridge cafes, cuddle cafes, crisp sandwich cafes, and even one in Japan that's trying to off people with fugu - a fish so poisonous even cyanide gives it a wide berth.

Not all of these cafs are utter toss-pottery. Northern Quarter's new Ziferblat cafe for one, where punters pay as they stay (5p a minute) and can sink as much coffee and cake as they like. Great idea. A Russian one at that. A much better idea than, say, invading Ukraine or selling missiles to Iran. 

Still, none of these novelty cafes have come in for quite as much stick as the highly-publicized and widely-ridiculed cereal cafe.

Black Milk opens in MarchBlack Milk MCR opens in March

First launched in the UK by Belfast-born hipster-by-numbers twin brothers (Beard? check; Tattoos? check; bastardised concept lifted directly from the U.S.? check), Cereal Killer cafe opened in East London late last year offering punters 120 varieties of cereal and thirteen types of milk - many imported from America - from prices starting at £2.50 per bowl.

The national press and tweet-elite gave the poor buggers a good hidin'. Channel 4 sent in some sap to vilify the young entrepreneurs for daring to price-out poverty-stricken Tower Hamlet's Tiny Tims (the said sap reportedly left without paying for his cereal, by the way).

Regardless, having sold 20,000 bowls in six weeks the brothers laughed all the way to the bank on their custom Raleigh Choppers and are now ready to open their second branch in Camden having inspired multiple imposters across the UK.

Still, surely not in Manchester? After all, 'we do things differently here', don't we?

"First thing's first," says Oliver Taylor. "Let's get this out the way... we're not just about the cereal." 

Taylor is the 27-year-old trained sommelier behind Black Milk - Manchester's first bash at the crunchy stuff (well, the first to put plans into action - we're yet to be convinced that @cerealcentralmcr isn't a wind-up).

Afflecks PalaceAfflecks Palace

Black Milk will open on the second floor of the city's wonderful weirdo nirvana, Afflecks Palace, on Tuesday 3 March, and Taylor insists the novelty caf' has much more to offer than 60 brands of cereal.

"We took inspiration from the famous Momofuku Milk Bar in New York," Taylor tells me. "So we're more of a milk cafe than a cereal cafe, with all of our products revolving around the central theme of milk.

"Of course, cereal is a part of that," Taylor continues, "but we're also offering chef-created milk recipes, loads of baked goods, porridge, muesli, yoghurt, gluten-free and vegan options, world chocolates, coffee, juice and a full-works breakfast for £5.

"We don't want people to get hung up on the cereal thing... we have just as many milks to try."

White Russians, perhaps?

"Milk cocktails is actually something we're looking at for the future," says Taylor. One for the Big Lebowskis.

So what's this black milk? Sounds like a wrong'un.

"We're experimenting with pure black squid ink," Taylor explains. "I remember eating squid ink pasta in Ibiza and just being mesmerized by the stuff. The name just fit."

Momofuku Milk Bar, New York - inspiration for Black MilkMomofuku Milk Bar, New York - inspiration for Black Milk

Is Taylor expecting, like the Cereal Killer twins, to take a pounding on pricing? 

"I thought their pricing was pretty fair," says Taylor. "We haven't decided on our exact prices yet, but I doubt there'll be as much as the London cafes - their rents are ridiculous, to be fair."

I have sympathy for Taylor, a young man running with an idea and trying to make a few quid, only to be met by an army of miserable, grumbling Twitter-lords.

Were knickers so twisted when Archies on Oxford Road started lobbing KitKats in milk and charging £4 for a shake? No. People went rabid for it. So what's the difference? Mark-ups and margins are certainly nothing new, there's wine mark-ups in some Manchester restaurants that'd make your ears spin.

The 'you could buy a box for that' argument is moronic. You can buy a 250g bag of Costa home blend for £3.50. Does that mean you're going to stop spending £20 on coffee each week? Does it 'eck. And we all know it's no longer about the product and more about sitting somewhere with more exposed bricks than Jewson and Instagramming it to buggery.

So let's give Olly and his team the benefit of the doubt, eh? He's taking a punt, good on him. And like any young, spunky start-up business, if it doesn't work it'll disappear like a guff in a howling gale. Until then, shurrup and eat your squid ink Coco Pops.

Follow @David8Blake on twitter.

@blackmilkcereal will open in Afflecks Palace in early-March.

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

AnonymousFebruary 25th 2015.

I love cereal

AnonymousFebruary 25th 2015.

There's nothing so easily parted as a fool their money. Having said that I can imagine my 13 year old nieces loving it and that's OK as their money is really their Mum's and she's on the GP gravy train. Slurp away sweet toothed youngsters of Manchester.

AnonymousFebruary 25th 2015.

It's the smugness, not the concept which offends me

1 Response: Reply To This...
GimboidFebruary 25th 2015.

The smugness that you are projecting and only exists in your imagination.

AnonymousFebruary 25th 2015.

The Fruit Exhange closed quietly recently www.manchesterconfidential.co.uk/…/Fruit-Exchange-Deansgate-Reviewed… I'm sure this will too.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 25th 2015.

The lease was on the market for ages and is now under offer maybe even let. Black Milk will be in Afflecks which is nothing to do with Fruit Exchange and nowhere near Deansgate.

AnonymousFebruary 25th 2015.

Afflecks is the perfect location for this

JonnyFebruary 27th 2015.

Dress the staff as Tony the Tiger and the honey monster, otherwise i'm just not interested. ;)

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 5th 2015.

The staff should wear clothes made out of corn flakes.

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Latest Rants

Anonymous

The staff should wear clothes made out of corn flakes.

 Read more
Jonny

Dress the staff as Tony the Tiger and the honey monster, otherwise i'm just not interested. ;)

 Read more
Another Tim

Actually, it seems like this pricing model is designed to encourage eating fast and getting out of…

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Another Tim

I don't think it's a silly question at all. Possibly not in keeping with the spirit of the place.…

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