Burton Road: home of independent businesses

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Photo taken by Emma Boyle at The George Charles . Burton Road sketchbook by Lee Grant.

Burton Road is an absolute hub for independent businesses – with start-ups springing up all around. It is an innovative community, connecting the Didsbury and Withington areas in South Manchester. It’s perhaps most famous for the incredible variety of bars and restaurants, but also boasts independent boutiques, a chocolatier, games café and much more.

Burton Road has grown rapidly over the last decade and I have no doubt that the next decade holds more adventures to come. One of the oldest attractions is the mock Tudor pub – which used to be an inn for coaches to change horses. Each new addition brings something unique and adds to the character of this iconic road. 

Well-loved favourites on Burton Road

There are almost too many incredible independent businesses along this road to know where to start… but some stand out for the incredible community work that they do.

Withy Public Hall said, “We are proud to be a part of Burton Road and passionate about making space to deepen these community connections! WPHI is a not-for-profit community pub and events space dedicated to sustaining our historic building while providing the lovely people of South Manchester great craft beer, pizza and music.” They’re close by another beautiful, historic building: Withington Baths, which, as well as offering affordable gym & pool services – also hosts lots of community events.

Alongside these historic spaces we know and love, there are newer spaces like Santé which opened their doors in December 2022 and have been immensely popular – both with locals and many others who travel to the area in search of their delicious cocktails and small plates. The owner Ben and manager Anthony stated proudly that: “our community matters to us here at Santé and we are so lucky to be a part of Burton Road! We are proud to host Didsbury Events and continue to bring our love for the Mediterranean to West Didsbury.” Never content to settle with their already impressive success, they launched a brunch menu only last week.

FOLK are another well loved- spot, constantly coming up with new surprises for us. Rachel, one of the four owners, shares that: “We’re just about to introduce some new changes to our food and drinks menu ahead of Spring and ‘Taco Thursday’ is making a comeback, bringing the Mexican sunshine and Margaritas from April onwards. Sunday roasts have been a big hit and we’d like to keep offering them throughout the year, providing the demand is there.  Burton Road is a special place to live and work and we couldn’t be happier being part of it.”

Almost every day brings some new innovation to this road: with seasonal offers, events and collaborations springing up all around. The secret to what makes it so special? Simple! The business owners know and like one another. People work together and are proud to run their own business. Locals are proud to be able to shop along the road and support entrepreneurs that they know personally.

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A few of the amazing Santé team beautifully captured by Emma Beaumont.

The new places we’ve welcomed

Several new places opened in the last few months: True Manchester, Bohemia (which is actually three new businesses in one beautiful venue!) and My Thai – all of which have filled out quickly and are vying along with other venues for the top spot in people’s affections. There’s a lot more to look forward to in 2024 and Fox Brothers are the next venue set to open. The owners, Jonathan and Nick said: ‘having lived in Didsbury for over 15 years, we both feel that Burton road is the ideal place to showcase what we do: full of independent shops and boutiques. We love the community spirit and look forward to meeting everyone!”

Carrot Café is also set to open in early Spring and the owner, Joe said: “I’ve lived and worked in West Didsbury for over 20 years and am extremely excited to be opening a new venture on the road. I can’t wait to re-join the other businesses: Volta is almost always full, Steranko is the OG of Burton Road, West Didsbury Club has really changed the face of Burton Road for the good… There are so many amazing places showing off what this area has to offer and why so many people want to live here.”

We’re very lucky to have Joe opening his café soon and it’s another opening to look forward to off the back of all the others we’ve enjoyed recently. Over Christmas, we were fortunate enough to have a pop up from Charlotte who founded Calico Collective. She’s now handing that space over to her fellow entrepreneur and friend, Laura from Copper + Olive. So, for the next month, Burton Road even has it’s very own photography studio!

What’s on along Burton Road

I publish regular updates of what’s coming up over on the @burton_road instagram page. There’s so much new taking place all the time that’s it’s hard to summarise… but there are certain classics we can all enjoy. Many places offer regular live music, perhaps most famously Rustik (although there are lots of others too!) There is a quiz taking place almost every day of the week – for the full run down click HERE.

Plus, there are lots of seasonal events that take place! Almost everywhere is doing something special for Mother’s Day but the most famous event of the year has to be Christmas on Burton Road – run by the incredible Nelson and Hannah, owner of Beaumont Organic. The whole road is  pedestrianised for the day to celebrate all the businesses. If you missed it, then check out some of the highlights of last year’s event HERE.

I also run lots of events along the road, all of which focus on community connection. The main four events I run are: networking, single’s nights, socials and writing events, which you can find the details of HERE. All the events are designed so that you can come by yourself, meet new people and connect with this amazing area we’re proud to call home.

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Photo by Copper + Olive at the very first Burton Road network event.

How you can help local businesses

Do these incredible businesses need our support now more than ever? Yes, they absolutely do! To say the last few years have been challenging would be an understatement. So, here’s a few ideas of how you can support local businesses:

  • Treat yourself to a small business purchase once a month (or, however, often works for your budget.) Pop it in your diary to give yourself something to look forward to!
  • Lots of places fill up on evening’s and weekends but struggle more Mon – Wed and at lunch times. If work allows you to eat out then, it means the world to small businesses.
  • Book a celebration at one of the function rooms run by independent businesses – for more details, see our recent article.
  • If you’re able to work from a local café / restaurant and order there through the day, it goes a long way to support the community.
  • Set yourself the Burton Road challenge and try to visit every venue along the road in 2024, you can find the full list HERE.