Exhibition restaurant WIP Grade A Alternative p Grade A Alternative

Work is still underway at turning part of St George's House in the high-end food hall concept Exhibition. Credit: via Grade A Alternative

Food hotspot coming to Manchester’s historic St George’s House

Developer Grade A Alternative is transforming the former Pizza Express location into a 6,000 sq ft multi-kitchen restaurant with gallery and entertainment spaces.

Known as Exhibition, the elevated food hall concept would be situated on the ground floor of the grade two-listed St George’s House off Peter Street. Exhibition is set to open later this autumn.

Grade A interior designer Ed Meziani, who has been leading on the project, teased that the finished space will boast “three award-winning, high-end kitchens in an approachable setting”. The 400-capacity venue would also feature “boundary-pushing entertainment”, according to a press release.

There will be two bars, offering local beers, wine and curated seasonal cocktails.

To bring Exhibition to life, Grade A has created a new mezzanine in the building and a staircase. Back-of-house areas have been built up in the basement and the cellar has now been linked to the ground floor.

Grade A hopes for Exhibition to be a day-to-night venue, with the food hall making way for DJs in the evening. There will also be seven gallery areas showcasing the artwork of local artists. Meziani said he hopes the space will go on to showcase a variety of talent from the area, with work from both up-and-coming artists and those well established.

Exhibition restaurant Grade A Alternative p Grade A Alternative

Grade A Alternative hopes to open Exhibition this autumn. Credit: via Grade A Alternative

The more than 50,000 sq ft St George’s House was designed by architect Woodhouse, Corbett, and Dean. St George’s House was built in 1911 as a Young Men’s Christian Association. The building features the first major use in the country of the Kahn reinforced-concrete system, according to the National Heritage List.

Grade A Alternative is seeking to pay homage to that concrete past by stripping back the old Pizza Express interiors to expose the building’s industrial shell.

“When we started ripping out [the old interior] we were revealing these hugely over-specced columns which just looked absolutely fantastic,” Meziani said.

Meziani’s vision for the space is a push-and-pull. There’s the industrial space itself, which will be accentuated with stone furnishings and ash-tone elements. Then he is introducing patterned upholstery and more feminine colour tones to provide contrast.

Artwork throughout Exhibition will have nods to Hannah Beswick, best known as the Manchester Mummy. In the 1700s, Beswick’s body had embalmed and displayed due to her fear of a premature burial. Eventually, Beswick’s corpse became an attraction at The Museum of the Manchester Natural History Society, which once stood on the site of St George’s House.

Exhibition is part of Grade A’s push to build up the ground floor hospitality aspects of its buildings. Coffee shop Haunt, which is also situated within St George’s House, was the first of these projects. Exhibition has required more work, though, with Grade A’s Meziani saying it is the biggest project the team has undertaken.

Sam Wheatley, operations manager at Exhibition, described the venue as a “passion project” for the Grade A team.

“We can’t wait to see this incredible space brought back to life,” Wheatley said. “Nurturing local businesses and artists is integral to Exhibition, and we’re so excited to share our venue with some of the most talented people from across the region.”

Your Comments

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This is such a fabulous Manchester building in a key location. It will be great to have such promising things to draw people in.

By Patricia Cunningham

So many food halls popping up. Exciting times. Hope there’s a local brewery involved

By Levelling Up Manager

Over saturation

By Trev

St George’s House is an absolutely beautiful building and much under appreciated when people think of some of the grand monumental buildings along Oxford Street and Oxford Street.

By King George

How exciting! Can’t wait to see who the traders will be.

By Anonymous

Something for its neighbor, the Theatre Royal too – before it’s too late!

By Anonymous

Just a gorgeous building. I really would echo that comment on the Theatre Royal . It’s been mothballed for so many years now god only knows how much would need to be spent to convert it to something worthwhile. Hope someone takes the chance.

By Anonymous

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