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Fresh Servings at Kim's Kitchen

Steeped in the history of Manchester's old Hulme, Kim's Kitchen embarks on a new phase of community-orientated hospitality.

Fresh Servings

Illustration by

MrHass

Since its completion in 1997, the Hulme Arch Bridge has helped to integrate the district with the surrounding area and stands as a prominent sign of regeneration. Five minutes away from the award-winning bridge stands a medium-rise Brutalist remnant of Hulme's not-so-distant past. Its construction harkens back to the Hulme Crescents, a housing estate that became synonymous with inner city decline.

The deck-access blocks, lasting from 1972–1993, were the vision of Hugh Wilson and J. L. Womersley, the latter of whom had previously designed Sheffield's Park Hill. The Manchester housing scheme intended for 13,000 residents was severely compromised by architectural short-sights and engineering failures. Within a decade, the four giant Crescents were unfit for purpose and would contribute to the downturn of the surrounding area. Lacking tenancy prospects, or the finance for outright demolition, the city council simply stopped charging rent. In time the enclave became a precarious place which fostered the grass roots movements of the 1980s subcultures.

Hulme Crescents 1989

Hulme Crescents 1989

Richard Davis
Water pistol on Hulme Four Decking

Hulme Four access decking

Richard Davis

The 90s regeneration of Hulme saw the development of the Brutalist-inspired blocks that now stand on Old Birley Street. Several onetime residents of the Crescents informed the design of this building project with the aim of preserving the positive aspects of communal living. For many the pre-demolition Hulme flats also offered spare rooms from which businesses could be run. Magazines, design services, theatre companies, and fresh vegetable delivery could all be found. The new flats would be too small for such enterprises, and so Work for Change was formed in 1993 to provide co-operatively managed workspaces. One of the businesses that is now a member of this group is Kim's Kitchen, a cafe restaurant nested within one of the medium-rise blocks. Kim by the Sea, as it was originally known, has long been visited by the people of Manchester, and like other businesses had been forced to shutter due to the Covid restrictions. This break from trade expedited a change of ownership, an opportunity seized by two former employees who have risen to the challenge of operating the business.

To help realise its full potential the premises has been refurbished with a new kitchen, drinks counter, and at the time of writing is being redecorated. The refurbishment also includes a new sound system, laying the groundwork for future DJ sets and video streaming. The ethos of local cooperation informs which suppliers are chosen, and extends to fundraising initiatives for select charities. A phased relaunch began in early 2021, offering an updated menu for takeaway and local deliveries, and includes plant-based and gluten-free options.

The people involved in the plan have lived and worked in the building and local area and have a true recognition of what the space and surrounding area means to the community.

Bevon Manville (Kim's Kitchen co-owner).

As Manchester looks toward the easing of COVID restrictions, Kim's Kitchen is poised to offer a community-orientated revival in Hulme's increasingly gentrified landscape and, by doing so, serve a reminder of what has been achieved so far in this part of the city.

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