As the son of Manchester legend and Hacienda founder Tony Wilson, music has always been close to Oli Wilson’s heart.
Now, his latest venture will see him turn his passion for rave culture to a good cause.
Working alongside leading homelessness charities across the city, he is opening Peacemeal later this summer in a disused Ancoats warehouse.
Dubbed as a “social enterprise lifestyle space,” Peacemeal will consist of a bakery, all-day eatery and workers-owned delivery service. By night, the ground floor will transform into a late-night venue fit for warehouse parties.
Initially, 30% of the 18 strong team will come a homeless background. In time, Oli is hoping that percentage to rise to 60% of staff at the business.
Manchester born and bred, Oli said he was motivated to set up the business after witnessing what he calls the “humanitarian crisis” of homelessness in the city.
“I’ve grown up in Manchester my whole life. Manchester is my heart and soul,” he said.
“It just rips me to shreds to see what’s going on. It’s something that I couldn’t walk away from and it was something that I wanted to help out with in anyway.
“We’re working with some of the key charities in Manchester: Mustard Tree, Booth Centre and Shelter to recruit people who are probably a year down the line of coming off the streets.
“They’ve been through the programmes; they’ve been through the job clubs. These charities are training them up in their kitchens. They’ve got all the qualifications. They will probably have the keys to their first home and need that final step of reconnection, which is supported employment.”
The all-day food offering will be curated by DJ and restaurateur Luke Cowdrey, the man behind the menu of Manchester restaurants, Volta and The Refuge and long-standing promoter of legendary queer dance party Homoelectric.
“There was only one person I knew who I wanted to work on the food and that was Luke Cowdrey,” Oli said.
“His first point was is that if you want to do sandwiches you need to make sure your bread is absolutely banging. You should be baking your own bread in-house, which is how it ended up revolving around a bakery.”
The bakery will also offer a worker-owned sandwich delivery service for business across the city centre.
“I’m looking to having our delivery service worker-owned so it empowers the workers and makes them a part of it,” Oli said.
“They’re going to be stake-holders in the enterprise as well. Deliveroo and Uber are really clever new innovations, but they’re not exactly working for the guy on the street. I guess you could call ours a disruptive delivery business model.”
Meanwhile, the money generated from the late-night warehouse parties will be used to support the on-site employment academy. Rather than promote the venue with big name DJs though, Oli wants to shift the focus back to the music.
“I don’t want to advertise what DJs we’re booking. I’m just going to tell people a time and a place. I want to take it back to being about the people and the music and the space and the vibe, not necessarily about what superstar DJ is playing.”
Peacemeal is expected to open at the end of July. Yet anyone wanting to check out the space shouldn’t waste time. Oli has taken a two-year lease on the building, prior to its demolition to make way for a skyscraper hotel.
“Peacemeal is a nomadic venture,” he said.
“Everything is on wheels and collapsible so we can go in and out of disused warehouse spaces. When it comes to them knocking it down, we’ll be out in 24 hours and go somewhere else.”