The owner of the city restaurant widely thought to be the ‘finest’ in Liverpool for many years explained why they have closed their doors for the final time after more than two decades.
60 Hope Street shut due to the Covid-19 pandemic at the end of March 2020, and has not reopened at any stage during the changing easing of restrictions because it was ‘not commercially viable’.
Gary Manning, along with brother Colin, took the decision to close the restaurant for good after 22 years, but they insisted it was not related to the coronavirus-enforced closure.
Gary told the ECHO : “The market has changed now and the way people eat out. It would be better for us to invest in something else with a quicker return.
“The lockdown gave us time to reflect and analyse where we are from a business perspective and also personally.
“Also, we were at the end of our 20-year lease on the building, so there was that to consider too. Over 22 years, 60 Hope Street has stood the test of time, there are not many other restaurants that were still under the same ownership after all those years.”
“We have worked with amazing people, met amazing customers who have become friends and come into contact with famous people, even – food is a great leveller.
“Plus, I need time to write that book now!”
Just before Covid struck in March 2020, Gary and Colin were in discussions with an architect and designer to revamp 60 Hope Street, but the onset of the global virus caused them to reflect and think again.
The brothers, who formerly ran Host on Hope Street which they sold 18 months ago, still own The Quarter, on nearby Falkner Street, and Ginger at Duke Street Food and Drink Market.
Many of the staff from 60 Hope Street made the switch to this eatery at the bottom of town, so their employment wasn’t affected, Gary said.
The government’s furlough scheme helped to keep the business afloat, but the brothers decided to keep the restaurant closed, even during the brief moments of restrictions lifting, as the cost of overheads meant opening up was not financially sustainable.
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Gary added: “In March, last year, our core business went overnight, it was a brave decision not to open again, but commercially the best decision. And it allowed our sister restaurants to survive.
“We’ve had such an amazing time since 1999, it’s been an amazing opportunity.”
The brothers said they are now going to take a break, or a ‘holiday’, but have they are ‘full of ideas’ for new ventures, potentially linked to more casual dining.
Gary added: “There’s going to be opportunities in our sector, there are great opportunities in the city.
“I’ve got tons of ideas and concepts, it’s just about finding the right place. But we are very proud of 60 Hope Street and how we were a family-run bistro serving great food at a value for money.
“Covid gave me and Colin time to reflect, some headspace. I’m a better businessman now than 20 years ago, we are a bit older now. I want to do other stuff in the city, challenge the customers with amazing food and get a return on our investment.”
In an emotional final farewell message to customers, the Mannings said: “1999 St George’s Day, we opened the doors of 60 Hope Street with amazing support from family and friends.
“Over the past 22 years, it has taken us on the most incredible journey.
“We had so many highs and have been privileged to work with some amazing people.
“Back in 2008, we were proud to be at the heart of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture and the renaissance of our amazing city.
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“We would like to thank everyone who made it happen, blessed by the most loyal support from all our customers, some who have become dear friends.
“As we close the doors of 60 for good, the next chapter begins. See you all again very soon.”