Box on the Docks – an innovative and exciting solution to the social distance conundrum

When asked if you fancy having a beer or eating your dinner inside a box it probably doesn’t sound like an obvious first choice and may leave you puzzled as to why anyone would want to do that. These bespoke sheds and all-glass greenhouses make us feel very differently about just that.

MediaCityUK teamed up with Hemingway Design in their newest venture, Box On The Docks. It’s a dining experience that combines art, drinks and fantastic food and all of that while taking in one of Manchester’s most popular views, the quayside. 

The Quays welcomed 30 uniquely designed boxes along its banks this month. The boxes were placed outside each of the participating restaurants and cafes and offers extra seating capacity for customers. It’s aim – to support both the hospitality community in Media City as well as self-employed creatives. 

‘The-pandemic-which-must-not-be-named’ has seen every business having to socially distance its customers, meaning many individuals seeking a night outside of the four walls they’ve been forced to stare at for much of this year, have been left disappointed and turned away at the doors of overflowing bars and restaurants. 

MediaCityUK said ‘no more’ and teamed with London’s Hemingway Design to bring Manchester’s newest, artsy dining experience, offering a solution to the necessary reduced seating arrangements. They announced:

“In accordance with the recent changes to government guidelines, singular households and support bubbles of up to six people are able to dine in style within self-contained private pods, served by one of MediaCityUKs restaurants including Grindsmiths, The Dockyard, The Alchemist and Vertigo. The addition of Wagamama and The Botanist will see a further 11 boxes and greenhouses offering a safe and responsible way to enjoy a meal out.”

Brand new forward thinking plant-based eatery Vertigo said:

“Lots of our customers have ventured out for the first time since lockdown and were feeling anxious about eating out, the boxes really made them feel comfortable. Our staff have appreciated the extra exercise walking back and forth to the boxes after being on the sofa for months.”

There are plans for more food and drink outlets to open around the space. The addition of Wagamama and The Botanist will see a further 11 boxes and greenhouses added. 

Each box has been uniquely decorated by different artists. Some of the stand out installations include Tasha Whittle’s box covered in sunflowers; Mariel Osbourne’s blue and gold canopy and Sally Gilford’s ‘You are what you eat’.

I found myself in a Dockyard Box over the weekend and the selection of gourmet finger food paired with an ice-cold craft beer – a very welcome sight after spending the vast majority of the last six-months indoors.

The arrangement works very well and offers anyone looking to get out whilst having the least contact with other households a great option. Once seated in your own personal box the servers come and take your orders and then bring the food and drinks out – removing any risk associated with entering a restaurant where other people might be congregating.

The boxes work well come rain or come rare Salford shine. The boxes create shelter from bad weather whilst being able to have a 360-degree view out of the windows. On a sunny day deck chairs are provided outside and you can sunbathe with your beer or coffee in one hand while reading Salford Now on your smartphone in the other. 

Beyond the next couple of months, the future of the greenhouses and sheds are unknown. The idea and the layout would make this a great idea even in more normal times, so we would hope they might just place some additional boxes to make better use of the available space.

However, as that might just be wishful thinking and other plans for the area may be in the pipeline we recommend booking now if you want to experience this unique dining experience if you want to encourage MediaCityUK to keep these true works of art around.

Visit the Box on the Docks website for all your information on booking a box. But be quick as they are offering the 50 per cent off ‘eat out to help out scheme’ until the end of August.

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