First orders at Albert Square Chop House

The latest in the group of bars and restaurants operated by Roger Ward will open today in the grade 2-listed Memorial Hall across Manchester's civic square from the Town Hall.

Sir Richard Leese, council leader, and chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein, will officially open the latest addition to the Victorian Chop House Company.

Albert Square Chop HouseThe Venetian Gothic style building dates from 1866 and has been vacant since the Square Albert pub closed its doors a decade ago.

The £3.5m refit by Barnfield Construction completes its conversion into a dining pub, 80-cover restaurant, private dining boardroom and function room with 21st century facilities, creating 72 new jobs. A boutique hotel is planned to open on the upper floors at a later date.

The project team includes the Hurd Rolland Partnership Chartered Architects; Stephen Levrant Heritage Architects; Thomasons structural engineers; Warrington Martin quantity surveyors; Bill Logan Associates mechanical and electrical; and Sandy Brown Associates acoustic consultants.

Sir Richard Leese said head of the lunchtime opening event: "This is a magnificent building and it is great news that a Manchester firm is breathing new life into it. It represents a significant investment by the Victorian Chop House Company and will also create much-needed jobs. In these difficult economic times, it is heartening to see regeneration projects like this in our city centre and the entrepreneurial spirit it represents is vital for Manchester's future success as we move towards recovery."

Business partners Roger Ward and Alister Cook said they were proud to rejuvenate the landmark city centre building, taking it into its third century. Ward said: "We are hugely excited at the prospect of giving the city centre's finest historic square a high-quality dining and drinking destination. English Heritage says this is probably the finest building of its type in the country and I am really excited to be bringing it back to life."

Designed by Thomas Worthington, the Memorial Hall was originally built for the Unitarian Church and was also a meeting place for Victorian groups and societies, including Sir Charles Hallé's choir.

Ward currently operates Sam's Chop House and Mr Thomas's Chop House in Manchester city centre, as well as a Sam's Chop House in Leeds.

The third floor of Albert Square Chop House hosts a 100-capacity function room, which will retain the Memorial Hall name and target business conferences and other events. Its proximity to Manchester Town Hall and Manchester Registry Office are expected to make it a popular wedding venue. The same floor includes a 20-seat boardroom with presentation facilities.

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