Bristol-based Friska has secured its third site in Manchester as it looks to focus new openings in the north-west city this year, but is still eyeing London for future opportunities.
The ethical restaurant will join the likes of Mowgli, Loungers, Five Guys and artisan coffee house Takk at University Green – the new retail and leisure development from the University of Manchester and property company Bruntwood.
Griff Holland, co-founder of Friska, told MCA: “We have been watching this scheme develop for a while now and we felt it was a really great area, with some great incoming tenants, and that we would love to be part of the scheme and bring our take on quick service food and speciality coffee to that side of town.”
Friska opened its second Manchester site in St Peter’s Square last month, and has a site in the Bright Building at Manchester Science Park – also a Bruntwood development.
Holland said performance at its two existing Manchester sites were “ahead of target”, with business growing week in week out. “We have still got a way to go and we are continuing to build our reputation and brand awareness in Manchester, but feedback from customers has been brilliant.”
While Friska announced earlier this year it would be closing its sole Birmingham site, in Brindley Place, in order to focus its expansion efforts in Manchester, Holland said the business still has its sights on growth opportunities in other UK cities and hopes to replicate the reputation it has built up in Bristol in Manchester, and then further afield.
“From a strategic point of view, our energies are focused on Manchester; getting to know the city better and becoming more of a part of the city in the way I think we managed to achieve in Bristol,” said Holland.
“Eventually we would love to be part of the London scene, but at the moment the focus is definitely Manchester and then we will decide. We have got seven places in Bristol, and Manchester certainly feels like it could be a bigger city for us than Bristol, so maybe we will have 8, 9 or 10 in Manchester and then move on to the next city,” he explained.
“Perhaps Leeds, or London, but any areas or communities that have a really vibrant culture, good energy, and ultimately love great coffee and lovely food,” added Holland.
The University Green restaurant is due to open in September and will offer healthy grab and go hot boxes, including bao buns, pho noodle pots, burritos and wraps, with seating for up to 70 customers.
The site will also feature a ‘study space of the future’, with desk lights, power sockets and free wifi.
Holland said that while the students’ spend per head may be slightly less than other customers, “students love to eat and socialise”, so the main thing is to try and create an environment where students, as well as lecturers and university staff want to visit, he said.