First Dates restaurant could close as owner needs “breathing space” after pandemic

Drake & Morgan, the group that owns the restaurant, are still dealing with the impact of Covid-19

Updated on 25 May 2021 • Written By Eamonn Crowe

 First Dates restaurant could close as owner needs “breathing space” after pandemic

The Manchester restaurant used to film hit Channel 4 show First Dates could be set to close due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.


The Refinery, found in the trendy Spinningfields district, has acted as the backdrop for First Dates since last year, when production moved up north as part of Channel 4’s commitment to UK wide programming. The show was previously filmed at Paternoster Chophouse in London’s St Paul’s, which is part of the D&D Restaurant Group.

The news of the site’s potential closure comes after owners Drake & Morgan announced they planned to enter into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), in which three of their 22 locations would be permanently closed. The Refinery, which originally opened in 2017, is said to be among the three restaurants being considered for closure.

Other Drake & Morgan sites that could close under the proposals include The Allegory and The Listing bars, both of which are in London.

Speaking about the proposed plans, Drake & Morgan’s founder and chief executive Jillian MacLean said: "We started last year as a profitable and growing business and, in common with the rest of the hospitality industry, have been significantly affected by repeated lockdowns and tier restrictions.”

“This course of action, if approved, will safeguard the future of the group and give it the breathing space it needs to recover. We would like to thank all our stakeholders for their support during this challenging period."

The closure of The Refinery would be the second high-profile loss to Spinningfields restaurant scene in recent times, with popular Spanish restaurant Iberica waving goodbye to the area in October 2020.

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