The promise of a free concert on a sunny Bank Holiday Sunday in a part of town we’d yet to visit (Manchester’s a tough place to keep up with) certainly worked on Katharine and me.
Yet while the event itself was well worth it – see I am Kloot, The Mekkits!, Bluebird Kid Clark – Spinningfields itself isn’t worth the effort of a walk down Deansgate. The cheeky beggars make you register with their website before they’ll let you view a list of restaurants; it’s a disappointing list of ever so familiar names most of which Manchester has in abundance.
Just how many branches of Café Rouge – we passed two others on the walk down and there are more – does any city need? And the people who brought you Café Rouge, also bring you Strada, which looks like a museum café, but is one of a great many identical Italian restaurants. With the exception of local Indian Shimla Pinks (hardly unique in Manchester) none of the restaurants listed on Spinningfields website has less than a dozen outlets.
I guess that approaching big chains is the easiest way for a developer to fill a new space, feels safe and probably works for the conservative business lunch crowd that’s likely to be the bread and butter trade.
But if Spinningfields has aspirations to develop an evening and weekend trade, and it certainly appears to, it needs to work much harder on developing a character that differentiates it from the rest of the city.