‘End of an era’ – Manchester mourns closure of flagship Croma restaurant

A wave of support from Mancunians followed news that the city’s popular pizzeria, Croma, has been forced to shut down its downtown flagship.

It emerged yesterday that the channel could not maintain the site following the city’s reduction in footfall due to the pandemic and a difficult period until Christmas.

The restaurant, on Clarence Street, next to Albert Square, had been open since 2000 and only celebrated its 21st birthday last November.

The Manchester Evening News Facebook page was inundated with more than 400 reader comments lamenting the loss of the city center staple.

“Oh no, we loved this place,” wrote Facebook user Janet Druning. “Very sad. We had our civil partnership celebrations there in 2006, then our upgrade to wedding dinner in 2015. Very sad.

Open Money founder Anthony Morrow wrote on Twitter that the restaurant was “a place kids loved when they were young.” I almost looked like their Cotto pizza at one point. Bad news’.

Twitter user Carole Gibson added: “I am devastated by the news, Croma has been my favorite restaurant for over 20 years. I compare pizzas everywhere with Croma and none match. I loved the place in town, it was so easy to meet friends there and I feel so bad for the wonderful staff.

Thom Hetherington, CEO of the Northern Restaurant and Bar and Manchester Art Fair, also called it a “regular landmark for us back then, especially when the kids were young.”

He continued: “It was also the training ground for local guys Johnny Smith and Dan Willis who then started The Clove Club in Shoreditch, listed as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world.”

Fiona Botham, co-owner of Levanter and Baratxuri in Ramsbottom, added: “Sad to read this story yesterday, especially for their team, but happy that their suburban restaurants can continue. “

Some also missed out on the occasional celebrity contact the restaurant could facilitate.

Twitter user @lhendo added: “Where I took my mom when she came to visit me in college in the late 90s.

“She was very excited to see Tony Wilson at the next table (more for his fame from Granada Reports than Madchester).”

Croma founder Andrew Bullock

Restaurant manager Mark Imeson, who had run the site since it opened in 2000, told MEN: “It’s a bit difficult. We planned to open for three decades. Few restaurants do.

“We’ve always made food simple, but then you just have to take a little bit to make it special.”

Others also spoke of “first dates” on the site, as well as numerous “graduation meals,” with particular affection for his unconventional Peking duck pizza, not to mention his pizza à la. highly ordered Caesar salad.

The restaurant was also featured as a famous spot in Paul Abbott’s Shameless, where then-real-life couple James McAvoy and Anne-Marie Duff had their first date as Steve McBride and Fiona Gallagher.

Imeson remembers the day the film crew arrived, and although he was assured “you won’t even know we’re here”, he showed up for work after signing a release form to find the road closed and the lights illuminating the entire ground floor of the restaurant, with customers always coming in for reservations.

“There were about 50 crew members, extras, the lot,” he recalls. “The crew arrives to ask for food, uses the washroom, customers come in saying ‘what the hell is this? we don’t want to be on TV! “

James McAvoy and Anne-Marie Duff

“But we got an iconic exterior photo of the restaurant. And the writer [Paul Abbott] even wrote a few more scenes that day, because he loved the setting so much.

“And James McAvoy, he was lovely. I don’t know if he might have had any restaurant jobs, but he kept apologizing to us all day. The people who worked in a busy restaurant or bar knows how to behave, and I think it must have.

“Some of the customers who started talking on TV changed their minds when they saw it was him. And because they were sitting on the mezzanine, they had a great view of the day’s shoot. . “

The chain restaurants in Chorlton, Didsbury and Prestwich are unaffected by the city center site closure.


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