Restaurants, Bars and Cafes

Exclusive: New craft beer bar and barbecue restaurant to open on former Amba site

By David Prior at

A new craft beer bar and barbecue restaurant is to open later this month on the site formerly occupied by Amba in Hale.

The American-themed bar and restaurant will be called Stockyard and open on February 27th – and according to owner Dominic Clancy, will be “good quality but done at a very affordable price”.

Clancy, 27, already runs a bar in Chorlton called Morley Cheeks but he insists that Stockyard is a new concept and “completely separate” – and it’s not a “burger bar”, as some have suggested. “It’s a lot more than that, although my burgers will be great!”

The site is currently undergoing a £400,000 renovation and everything bar the back staircase has been taken out. Four-fifths of the ground floor will be given over to a bar area that will seat 65 people plus standing areas, while the back fifth and the downstairs will comprise a 64-seat restaurant area. “It’s not a hybrid,” he says, “I’m trying to limit the crossover so you can’t have the restaurant menu in the bar area and vice versa. I want a big bar area in there.”

Many were surprised when Amba, a popular fixture on the Hale dining scene for many years, suddenly announced it was closing last month. Clancy said he found out that it was on the market and a deal to purchase the business was done quickly.

Below: The old Amba site on Ashley Road, the venue for Stockyard bar and restaurant

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Originally from Hale, Clancy has been involved in bars for most of his working life as his dad, Aidan, owned Hale Leisure, the company behind iconic Manchester bars such as Barca, Jabez Clegg and Dry Bar.

His Chorlton bar venture, his first, has proven to be a success and gave him the means to secure the bank loan required to bring his Hale bar idea to fruition.

Stockyard has been two years in the making but it was the closure of The American Bar last summer that convinced him that there was a gap in the market.

“I was already actively looking when the American Bar closed,” he says, “but when that went it made me jump four gears forward and go ‘yeah, let’s do it’. Although I don’t regard us as doing what the American Bar did, it’s for a similar demographic.

“You’ve got pubs like the Railway which are absolutely great for your bitters and your pub drinkers, but as far as I’m concerned there’s no nice comfortable bar where you can go and leisurely sit with your friends and drink the afternoon away.

“But I don’t feel I’m going into competition with anyone in the area because it’s a big enough place and we need some more bars. I’m just trying to create more of a night scene.”

Although the concept has come together from all different types of bars that Clancy has visited over the years, Stockyard will be heavily influenced by the Deep South of America.

He says: “There will be a lot of craft beers, cocktails with a heavy Bourbon influence, burgers, hot dogs, ribs, steaks and lobster, all good quality but done at very affordable price.” That means lobster or T-Bone steak, chips and sauce will set you back £20.

Drinks-wise, Stockyard will offer the full range on tap – bitter, stout, cider, a weak beer, three lagers and three American craft beers. Intriguingly, it’s bringing back Boddingtons, the famous Manchester beer. “I feel it’s due a revival,” says Clancy, “it became a bit of an old man’s drink, but I almost think it’s cool again now”.

He’s imported an authentic food smoker from the States as well as some “big American handles” for the beers – even the Boddingtons one.

His girlfriend has been leading group tasting sessions for the wine list, and Clancy says he is trying to “price it very well for the area”. To that end, a bottle of house wine will start at £16.50, going up to £42.

Below: Clancy’s other bar, Morley Cheeks in Chorlton

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The look of the bar is “massively important”, he says, “it’s got to look the bee’s knees”. So there will be oak flooring throughout, the bar top is Canadian maple, the walls will be brickwork or cladded in snowpine timber and he’s sourced some vintage shutters for the windows.

Customers looking for a trace of the bar’s former occupants will be disappointed. “The only thing that is staying from Amba is the back staircase,” he adds, “apart from that everything has changed. The bar has been ripped out and moved to a completely different location, all the boothing has gone, a lot of walls have come down and we’ve rewired it. It’s gone back to the brickwork and been rebuilt, basically.”

Clancy says it took him six months to secure the bank loan in order to fund his new venture. “It wasn’t easy to get and took a long time. First of all I needed to find the right bank that wanted to back me, and then it was about building up a relationship and working on the business plan.”

It seems he won’t be using Stockyard’s sought-after location as a means of ramping up his prices, however. “I didn’t want to make the mistake of coming to Hale and thinking I could suddenly put another 20% on what I was doing,” he says. “I have done a lot of pricing based on what I do at Morley Cheeks. Obviously my rates and my rents are higher here, so there has been a slight increase, but I’m trying to keep it as customer-friendly as possible.”

Renovation work is a couple of days behind schedule at the moment, but Clancy is confident it will be all finished by February 20th to allow for a week’s worth of training for his 30-plus staff. The plan for the future is to roll out the concept to other areas, but for now he’s just focusing on Hale.

“It’s been a rollercoaster,” he says, “but I’m obviously dead excited. I think it will work well – Hale is crying out for somewhere like it.”