Tucked away behind the Apollo, ARMR Store is probably Ardwick’s best kept secret, a Caribbean Café and Health Food shop that’s so much more than both of those things, and has become a real community hub over the last couple of years.
Owner Raph has created a dynamic community destination, café and store that appeals to locals, with a menu of 100% plant-based Caribbean cuisine, alongside health products which are around 60% Manchester owned – stocking only independents and giving back to the community wherever they can.
An important part of the ARMR ethos is giving back to the community of Ardwick, one of Manchester’s most deprived neighbourhoods, characterised by high levels of unemployment and low levels of self-employment. Since opening in March 2019, ARMR has:
– Offered the space for a food bank during the pandemic.
– Provided mentoring for local young people.
– Provided a platform for local independent brands, circulating money within the community.
– Sourced local produce where possible rather than big national chains.
– Provided employment opportunities to local people .
– Put money back into the local community.
– Provided culturally appropriate free food to those in need during the pandemic.
– Provided a no cost space for women’s well being and men’s mental health groups.
Raph explains: “Thanks to hard work and tireless support, I’m running a thriving independent business. I want my story to inspire others and to help create opportunities in my community. I truly believe that Ardwick is more than just deprivation, it’s an untapped source of potential.”
However, Raph is currently struggling – cooking most of the dishes at home before bringing it into the cafe to serve customers. “It’s not ideal. I need a fully fitted kitchen for ARMR so that I can serve more people, more quickly; expand the menu; extend the opening hours; and continue to defy expectations and grow my business.”
So they’ve launched a Crowdfunding page to try to raise £25,000 for a new kitchen, plus additional facilities and provisions, in exchange for ‘rewards’, ranging from exclusive gigs with Manchester artists to a Caribbean Supper Club with Mary-Ellen McTague.
The investment will allow ARMR to provide:
– Training and mentoring opportunities for local young people, across areas such as cooking, hospitality, retail, event organisation and business management.
– Expanded operational hours, with food served in the evenings.
– A space for events showcasing local artists, community leaders, business people and other inspirational figures.
– A space for events focused on physical and mental wellbeing.
– An expanded menu of freshly made, culturally appropriate vegan food for an area disproportionately served by fast-food outlets.
– Support for local non-profit Eat Well MCR, along with other grassroots organisations.
For more information on ARMR, and to pledge some money towards the cause, head over to their Crowdfunder page below…
ARMR Store, 2 Polygon St, Manchester M13 9SG