Coronation Street star Jennie McAlpine is hoping her new Manchester restaurant can become a ‘home-from-home’ for those who love to eat out.
Annies, in Old Bank Street, off St Anne’s Square, is the labour of love for the 28-year-old, who plays Fiz in the ITV soap, along with her partner Chris Farr and her dad Tom, and held their official celebration last night ahead of the opening today.
And McAlpine wants people to come and feel at home, with a menu of creature comfort food such as a tasty Lancashire Hotpot and Cheese and Onion Pie, but in surroundings not too dissimilar to a favourite aunt’s house.
“It has that homely vibe,” said McAlpine.
“Even the name, which is after St Anne’s Square, people have said to us that it conjures up homely memories of that name. Even if you haven’t, you kind of feel like you’ve got an Auntie Annie.
“That’s exactly the vibe we’re going for – somewhere people can feel at home and a place they belong, and I feel we’ve pulled that together.”
The Bury-born Corrie star, the focus of some of the soap’s biggest storylines with more to come, insists the menu will provide good, local food as well as value for money.
But she is not sure if her role as a silent partner will stay that way as she heads up the exciting new venture alongside her demanding filming schedule.
“We always planned the concept on being traditional home comforts sort of menu,” said McAlpine. “We’ve got a load of pies, Lancashire Hotpot, which is a must in a northern restaurant, and a must to get right too.
“Wewanted to give people nice food and good value for money, using suppliers across the region – even down to the food and the furniture, and all the tradesman have been local.
“I’m going to try and not interfere too much – I’m supposed to be the silent partner, but Chris would say he hasn’t heard much silence.”
The lay-out of Annies is an interesting one – the modern feel of an open plan dining area, mixed with with a private room kitted out to resemble a cosy front room.
There are deep and comfortable armchairs, most of them rescued and reupholstered, for people to enjoy a drink after dinner, while the bar is adorned with wood from old church pews.
McAlpine believes she will feel a sense of achievement when she sees people enjoying what has been a long-term project for her and her family.
She said: “It’s a labour of love – I’ll be so proud to see it packed out.
“If I can see someone enjoying themselves, or people celebrating their Grandma’s birthday, eating our hotpot around the table, I’ll be thinking ‘job done’.
“It’s taken a lot of work to seem to put things randomly together. We tried to make it look like it’s been here a while, with the armchairs like they’ve been in a family home.”