Beginning its journey at the height of lockdown, Levenshulme’s The Gherkin has become a go to cafe stop off for keen followers of the plant-based diet.
Owned by Jamie Whittaker, the restaurant serves a hearty menu of seasonal sandwiches, breakfasts and Sunday roasts with a big focus on the environment and very much with community at its heart.
In March this year, Jamie flew to Ukraine to help provide aid and care for the country’s refugees. On his return to Manchester, he wanted to further assist those that had come to the city to escape the war, and began offering free meals at his restaurant every Monday so those in need could still take pleasure in the communal joy of eating out.
Alongside this, in response to the current cost of living crisis, Jamie has now transformed the Monday offering into a ‘pay as you feel’ evening, in which refugees still dine for free. Open to anyone looking for an affordable meal, The Gherkin provides a set menu of six to seven dishes, featuring meals such as the Sunday roast and its famous burgers.
“The main reason we’re doing this is to help the community out, but it also means that we waste less produce, too,” said Jamie. “A lot of people are struggling at the moment, especially with the rising cost of energy bills and I want to make dining out accessible to everyone in the community, not just those who are more privileged.”
Guests dining at the restaurant on a Monday can pay whatever they like for their meal, with the option to also pay forward for food or donate cash to the restaurant. This means that the business doesn’t lose out on a big portion of its earnings.
“We wouldn’t turn anyone without cash away on a Monday for food,” furthered Jamie. “Some customers have paid extra and offered to buy anyone a drink or food. We’ve done this often since opening.”
Jamie and the team at The Gherkin plan to provide the pay as you feel Mondays for the foreseeable, offering the local community an intimate space to dine in and enjoy meals out without worrying about money.
Located on Slade Lane in Levenshulme, the bistro has a huge focus on community and the environment. Offering a fully vegetarian and vegan menu, it brings together locals through sustainable food and a calendar of events that spans art, DJs and quiz nights.