Winner of this year’s Observer Food Monthly Award for Local Food Hero, The Dressing Room Café in Chorlton Manchester, is run by Janine and Dominic Waters as part of their community Theatre venture, The Edge.
The Edge was set up in 2011 – an arts venue that would allow the hungry, the lonely and the dispossessed the opportunity to participate in creative activity. ‘Somewhere to belong, a sense of achievement, a shared purpose’ as Janine puts it.
This shared purpose has now expanded beyond the arts with the launch of the Dressing Room Café in 2015 – a culinary training centre for Mancunians with learning disabilities. Apart from helping to run a cafe, the students are also given training in basic life skills such as cooking, food preparation, shopping and healthy living – skills which often lead to placements in the catering industry.
Janine is also determined that the Café competes on food quality as well. She wants the Dressing Room to serve ‘really nice food’ in an atmosphere that will encourage customers to keep coming back. Their menu offers Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern inspired salads, sandwiches, quiches and soups and cake, especially banana bread, in a gorgeously high-ceilinged, Victorian gothic-style room. Clients include locals as well as Coronation Street regulars who work in nearby Salford. Julie Hesmondhalgh, one-time Coro actor and Edge Patron, is a big Dressing Room fan. ‘The food’s gorgeous and the cafe has a lovely, buzzy atmosphere’ she says. ‘The Edge is such an inclusive place and the Dressing Room is a shining example of that inclusivity.’
The Dressing Room Cafe, Manchester Road, Chorlton M21 9JG, edgetheatre.co.uk/dressing-room-cafe-chorlton/
Picture credit: Chris Foster Photography