We had a sit down with Baton Berisha- the Director of Operations of The Ivy group to discuss settling into Manchester, The Ivy legacy and their upcoming Circus Extravaganza.
So tell me about The Ivy Circus Party – how did it come about?
So after the fire we had in January, we released a statement saying we would reopen with what we called then a ‘super party’, and it is certainly going to be a super-party! We were incredibly impressed with the management of the fire by the firefighters and our employees also on the day so we wanted to A) do something for the people of Manchester to thank them for their support and the welcome they have given us and B) do something for the firefighters for their management of the fire on the day. Now, we are selling tickets for £100 per guest, and all the proceeds will be going towards the firefighter’s charity as our way of thanking them for all the support they have given us on the day and beyond. All the firefighters are invited too with their families and spouses.
What is the Inspiration behind The Ivy Circus?
Well, the circus theme just an idea we had so we could use the green Spinningfields area and let’s be honest, what’s more exciting than bringing a huge big top tent on top of the garden?! (He laughs) We thought that’s what we need to do. I don’t know if you have seen in yet but I saw a picture today and it’s looking incredible.
What can we expect from the circus party?
So the theme is on both the inside and the outside – so as soon as the guests arrive they will be met with live entertainment which will start from 7:30 pm. Once you enter the actual circus we will play host to an evening of performance like music, aerial performers, tightrope walkers, jugglers and of course our very own ringmaster.
Then from 10 pm, the whole tent will transform into a night club into the early hours. So yeah, it is set to be a pretty amazing party. And it isn’t going to be a sit down traditional circus, it’s going to be more of a party atmosphere full of people enjoying themselves with entertainment all around them. Guests are donating £100 for the evening, but all alcohol and food will be on us with our compliments which is our way of thanking the people of Manchester for the welcome they have given us so far.
There has been a great buzz around the re-opening of the roof garden, what makes it such a great space?
Well, the roof garden is a truly magical space. Due to the feedback we received before the fire we have retained much of the original look and feel of the place, so it is going to be quite similar. But what we have done is enhanced some details and so it has slightly different scenery. There is also a retractable roof for the summer and the views overlooking Spinningfields gives an intimate dining experience which is quite romantic.
You can also stay there on a Thursday or Friday or Saturday really late, you know 2 or 3 am and listen to DJs- so it is quite a unique environment to be in. And with that retractable roof in the summer – I think people will look forward to it. It officially reopens on 15th April with obviously the party this Friday to celebrate.
How do you feel The Ivy Spinningfields has settled into Manchester?
We have been incredibly pleased by the response from everyone in Manchester as well as those from slightly further afield and it has been great getting to know our new neighbours and regular guests. Some of our guests visit The Ivy two to three times per day in some cases – they come in for breakfast, then lunch and then back for dinner. The team have got to know some of the guest’s incredibly well which is great to see.
And on the opposite side, guests can pop in for all occasions whether it is a breakfast, working lunch, family dinner, afternoon tea, a glass of wine or even just a coffee – everyone is very welcome.
Do you think the different personalities of the three floors plays into this at all?
The three floors provide a different atmosphere and those themes appeal to different people. You know, you might visit the brasserie and then want to go upstairs to The Ivy Asia for a different feel with different food and then want to go to the garden and then go back to the Brasserie again and it just goes around like that. People can pick and choose what they like and we can provide something for everyone.
The Ivy is known as a British Institution with a loyal legion of fans, why do you think this is?
Absolutely. From my perspective, that is at the forefront of everything we do. You know the guests are incredibly important and we want to ensure the consistency in everything that we do like the quality of food, the quality of drinks the quality of service etc – all those things are incredibly important.
Do you think this responds to The Ivy’s history?
The original Ivy was opened over 100 years ago and it was even open during the war. So in that sense, it continues to be one of the most iconic restaurants in the UK. From that huge demand from our guests, we wanted to bring what we call ‘the Ivy Magic’ to the rest of the UK which is why we opened in places like Manchester and Dublin last year. So our guests are at the forefront of everything we do which is paramount to the success of the business and I think once you provide the service, the food, the atmosphere and strive make guests happy to come back then the success and the legacy is there.
Is there anything we can look forward to at The Ivy Spinningfields after the excitement of the party is over?
Yes. There will be lots of stuff happening in Manchester. Depending on the location of the restaurants, we tailor what we do in response to the location and the type of guests we have coming in and visiting. So there will be a number of exciting activations taking place over the rest of the year. Most exciting might be our Sunday Sessions in the Ivy Asia which will take place on the first Sunday of the month from midday to 6 pm starting Sunday 5th May. These events will entertain guests with DJs, themed entertainment or dancers with each one being different which means we will be keeping things fresh and exciting at The Ivy.
The Ivy Circus party takes place on Friday 12th April at 7:30 pm sharp. Tickets cost £100 for entry which will be donated to Manchester Fire Fighters. Tickets are available using the link below.
The Ivy Circus (and Roof Garden re-opening)
Venue: The Ivy Spinningfields
Date: Friday 12th April
Time: From 7.30pm