Simon Shaw to open Middle Eastern restaurant Habas in Manchester

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Simon Shaw to open Middle Eastern restaurant Habas in Manchester

Related tags Simon Shaw Habas Manchester Middle eastern cuisine El gato negro Canto Restaurant

North West-based chef restaurateur Simon Shaw is to open a modern Middle Eastern restaurant and live music bar in Manchester city centre.

Mooted in early 2019​ and now expected to open ‘in Spring’, Habas follows the success of Shaw’s El Gato Negro and Canto brands and will bring his total number of restaurants up to five. 

On Brown Street in the space that was most recently home to Panama Hatty’s, Habas will offer a modern interpretation of Middle Eastern dishes ‘influenced by the region’s rich and varied cultures’. 

The kitchen will be headed by Shaw supported by senior sous chef Craig Rutherford. “I was probably into Middle Eastern food before Spanish if I’m honest,” says Shaw. “It was back in ‘98 when I was living in London that I first became interested in it; going for a shawarma late at night was our thing.” 

“We’d go to these incredible places on Edgeware Road or in Bayswater after work, or even after we’d been out, it was quite a social thing. I remember thinking wow, what a great style of food this is; it’s amazing, so fresh and vibrant.”

“I knew then that I wanted to open a modern Middle Eastern restaurant; this isn’t a new thing. I’ve directed some of that influence into dishes at El Gato Negro as there’s so much overlap in styles and ingredients, but it’s really exciting to focus on this diverse region’s many cuisines with Habas.”

The site will occupy the lower ground floor of the a Grade II-listed building owned by property company Bruntwood. Detaidesign details are currently under wraps, but Shaw says diners can expect ‘a total transformation of the expansive space with elements of the historic building lovingly restored.’ 

“It will be the type of venue that I like to go to,” he says. “Somewhere that you can settle down for the night with great table service and music too.” 

The introduction of a live music programme follows the success of events hosted across Shaw’s restaurants, with the new venue providing the ‘perfect space to incorporate music as a regular feature’. 

Shaw says that Habas has been a long time in the making, with the site acquired well ahead of the pandemic. 

“We hit a couple of obstacles early on, as is to be expected when renovating a heritage building, and that required us to revise our timings. And then came the pandemic.” 

“It’s been tough as you’d expect, but abandoning plans for Habas was never an option, if anything it’s given us a greater appetite.”

Habas will join Shaw’s Spanish tapas restaurant El Gato Negro (Manchester, Liverpool, and Leeds) and its Portuguese sister restaurant Canto (Ancoats, Manchester). 

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