Real Junk Food to open city’s first waste food ‘Pay-As-You-Feel’ restaurant

After unfortunate delays with previous plans, Real Junk Food Manchester will open the city’s first waste food pay-as-you-feel restaurant in August at a temporary site on Oxford St, in the heart of the city centre.

The site will include an ethical coffee bar in partnership with Second City Coffee, take away breakfast and lunches for Mancunians on the go, and 40 cover restaurant that will offer breakfast and lunch 5 days a week, and regular fine dining evenings.

Real Junk Food Manchester has been a pop-up operation since mid 2014, with renowned chef Mary-Ellen McTague leading in the kitchen since early 2016. The innovative social enterprise has hosted a huge range of “waste food” events, including pop-up restaurants, weddings, gala dinners, and support for a range of social and community projects helping people struggling in the current economy.

Mary-Ellen has now taken an exciting new role at Manchester Art Gallery, but remains Executive Chef and Director of the project. Mary-Ellen has incorporated Real Junk Food Mcr into the new art gallery cafe by offering a pay-as-you-feel children’s menu, with all ingredients being supplied by Real Junk Food Manchester.

Given that Real Junk Food Manchester has sustainability at it’s heart, the new pop-up restaurant will be as upcycled as can be. The project has worked with CHR Food Equipment Services to put an open letter out to CEDA (Catering equipment distributors association) members. CHR have asked catering equipment companies to donate equipment that has gone unused, or support the project however they can.

CHR have also donated project management services to support the installation of the kitchen, and have given all of their time and energy for free. The restaurant set up and fit out has received in kind and pro bono support from a range of services including interior designers, upcyclers, and even florists! The project aims to demonstrate what a strong community like Manchester can do when we pull together – people before profits.

The project still needs support, and is actively seeking qualified and experienced electrical and plumbing contractors who might be willing to help us to build our restaurant! The team, supported by an army of volunteers, will be spending July and early August sanding and repairing chairs, building a coffee bar from reclaimed wood, and painting and decorating.

Anyone who would like to donate some time, energy or materials should email

Exact dates are still to be confirmed but watch this space…



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