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"This is exactly how I imagined it": Toasting a true Altrincham success story

One café-restaurant stands as a perfect example of how to breathe life into old, unused buildings.

Toast owner Justin Orange (centre) with some of his team

When the topic of Altrincham’s transformation over the last decade crops up, it’s often the Market Quarter that gets all the glory.

But on the other side of town, there’s one café-restaurant that stands as a perfect example of how to breathe life into old, unused buildings.

And as its hordes of devoted regulars will attest, it’s fast becoming an Altrincham institution.

63 Stamford New Road - or 9-11 Railway Street as it once was - was for 128 years a bank, first opening in 1883 as the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank. It subsequently became a Martins Bank before Barclays took it over in 1969, serving its final customer on November 25th 2011. 

Toast as it is in 2024

For a time it stood as a sad memory of what it once had been, as well as the latest casualty of the continuing decline in physical bank branches.

It even served as the construction site office during the building of Altrincham Hospital in 2013 and 2014.

But a new chapter for this historic building was about to be written.

Having acquired the building back in 2012, brothers Justin and Simon Orange oversaw a complete renovation of the building that Justin now says “nearly broke me”, and they finally opened Toast in October 2017.

“We finally got there, and this is exactly how I imagined it,” says Justin. 

Inside Toast on Stamford New Road

With an initial focus on breakfast and brunch, much was made at the time about the theme of that most British of snacks: toast.

But just weeks after Toast launched its new spring menu, things have evolved into something far more adventurous.

“I never thought we’d move into high-end lunch,” says Justin. “But the feedback we get now from customers is astonishing - it’s 100% restaurant-quality food at café prices.”

Much of that is down to his chefs Lukon and Jaime, who over their four years at Toast have “changed the menu beyond belief”.

“Together they are magical, absolutely magical. What they create blows my mind.”

One of the new dishes on Toast's summer menu

Particularly popular recent dishes have included the Jerk Chicken Dip - chicken in a toasted ciabatta with coleslaw and a cheese and onion gravy - and a vegetarian breakfast featuring grilled halloumi, sliced avocado, sun dried tomatoes and a poached egg that Justin says they “can’t make quickly enough”.

Toast’s growing reputation for quality is certainly being reflected in footfall, with Justin particularly heartened to see a 30-40% increase in new faces in recent months.

But Toast is much more than a delicious menu and, Justin says, the cheapest latte in town.

He has a focus on detail that any one of this building’s previous bank managers would have been proud of.

Toast general manager Jordan Ette joined in 2018 and only intended to stay a year - but he's never left

From the lighting to the music to the cleanliness of the toilets and his very personal style of customer service, he is across it all.

“Everything matters down to the tiniest detail,” he says. “I wanted to create somewhere where I would want to come because I'm here a lot. I love being here.”

Proudly, he has no plans for a second slice of Toast, choosing lifestyle over the kind of stress that has left a friend in the business “looking 100 years old”.

Unusually for a hospitality business, Toast is closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays - and shut its doors for two weeks over Christmas to give its 15 staff a break.

“Sunday would be very busy here and we have talked about it, but it’s a state of mind for me. Whatever the week throws at us, we all know we have Sunday off. It's my day of rest.”

Toast has seen a 30-40% increase in new faces in recent months

He adds: “It comes down to what you need - I have a lovely little house in Lymm, I drive a decent car, I go on holiday a couple of times a year. What more do you need? I see my wife, my family, my friends. If I had three or four places I would never see them, and it would become a grind and a chore. This isn't a chore for me.”

The result is that when Toast reopened on January 6th this year, he had a long queue of relieved customers glad they no longer had to choose somewhere else for lunch. The reward is that January is now Toast’s best month of the year.

Toast’s atypical approach is certainly appreciated by its staff, many of whom have been there since day one.

General manager Jordan Ette only intended to stay for a year when he joined back in January 2018 - but six years on he’s still there and has vowed to stick around for as long as Justin needs him.

“It's got such a nice atmosphere here, so laidback,” says Jordan. “Everyone has a laugh when they work here.”

Toast waitress Daniella Kalita

Waitress Daniella Kalita agrees. “It's almost like it's not work... I've worked in hospitality for 10 years and it’s been so stressful that I’ve job-hopped a lot - but I don't see myself leaving here.

“Justin is the most easy-going boss I've ever had. Nowhere I've worked do you get food on your break to the standard that a customer would get. It's insane!” 

Highlights of the new spring menu include steak and blue cheese with a peppercorn sauce that Jordan predicts will be “super popular”.

“The amount of people who are so surprised by the food here is incredible,” he says. “People think it's just on toast, but it's not - the toast is almost like the plate, and the dish is served on top.”

Justin’s refreshing approach to life at Toast is largely down to his own experiences while working for numerous other people in Manchester’s hospitality industry.

Toast's warm sea bass salad

“I worked for a lot of managers and owners in Manchester for 30-odd years, and most of them don't care. You're just a customer, they want your money and out.”

By doing the opposite, Justin hopes to ensure Toast steers clear of the current headwinds affecting the industry - and ensures it is inhabiting this stunning Altrincham building for many years to come. 

“People always aim for massive profits, but the trait I hate most in people is greed. It’s short-term gain, and I’m here for the long term.”

For more information about Toast, visit or follow @toastaltrincham on Facebook and Instagram 

Photography: Laura Marie Linck