Businessman Mike embraces his dream and opens “upmarket” new café bar in Altrincham

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The owner of a new café bar in Altrincham town centre says he will be realising a long-held dream when it opens later this month.

Workmen are currently transforming the old Bar 59 site on Stamford New Road into Embrace Bar, a Victoriana-style café bar that will offer coffee, tea and pastries in the afternoon and live music, fine wine and cocktails in the evening.

It’s all the vision of Mike Burke, a businessman in his early 50s who first dreamt of opening a bar two decades ago and has finally taken the plunge.

Born in Old Trafford but now living in Altrincham, Burke says his new bar – which comes with the strapline ‘House of Spirits’ – will be “upmarket, but not in a snobby way… it’ll be classy”.

“It’s been a pipe dream of mine probably since my early 30s,” he says. “At the time I was thinking about setting up a little blues bar, but now I’m thinking we’ll just have a blues night, and the bar will have much more to it than that.

“It will have a Victoriana feel, and will be a bit of a nod to the early 20th century because they did things in style then. It won’t be a theme place, but the concept will revolve around the idea of the House of Spirits. There’ll be an embracing spirit – come on in, enjoy good music, enjoy a drink, enjoy the company. I like the phrase I saw in the Northern Quarter the other day – ‘strictly speaking, alcohol is the solution’. I like that idea, without overdoing it too much.”

The bar’s name has particular resonance for Burke – for the past 10 years he’s run Embrace E-Learning, an Altrincham-based provider of training courses for workers in the health and social care sectors. He’ll be leaving the day-to-day management of Embrace Bar to a manager, Finbar, to enable him to keep the day job.

Below: The site of the new Embrace Bar on Stamford New Road

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Before finding the current site, Burke had nearly secured two other places, one of them the former L’Amore Kitchen and Bar on The Downs. Alas, sky-high rents put him off that premises.

He’s confident though that his chosen site – currently been knocked into shape by a team of workmen in time for an opening before the end of the month – is well located, close to the “bouncing” Goose Green area.

He adds: “We’re investing heavily in it, bringing it right up to specification from a fire safety, hygiene and hopefully design point of view.

“We have some really nice features – we’ve built a nice stage, the central staircase is a big feature, the decking outside is really good. It’s going to have a few things that some of the other places in Altrincham don’t have.

“I think we’ll benefit from Goose Green, and I think Goose Green will benefit from us as well. Especially with winter coming up, it will be somewhere with a bit more capacity than some of the smaller places in Goose Green.”

The bar will serve charcuterie-style food – cold meats, cheese board, olives and soups – and has also hired a pastry chef for the daytime crowd.

Is he worried about the current state of vacant unit-heavy Stamford New Road? He thinks that once the interchange and hospital open, “things are going to change in a big way”.

“This is the main thoroughfare between the two,” he adds. “There’s the Laundry Boutique down the road that is just opening up – that looks very classy, and that’s the kind of place that Altrincham can do with. What they’re doing for clothes, we’ll do for coffee, wine and cocktails.”

Below: The new bar’s logo

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