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Old friends set to bring a taste of Oldham to the Independent Quarter

IMG_1250Two old school friends are hoping their new restaurant will get a red hot reception when they open up in Oldham’s Independent Quarter.

Ata Mubeen and Luke Rafferty are the men behind the ‘Smoke Yard’, which will soon be a fixture on Church Terrace – directly facing Oldham Council’s transformation of the Old Town Hall.

The pair have ambitious plans for the property – formerly the Coffee Lounge – and are investing a significant amount of their own money in the restaurant as well as receiving council grant support.

Over the last six months the local authority’s Town Centre Team has provided a range of support to the enterprising duo including property searches, business advice and grant support.

The restaurant will serve hearty American smoked meats, including platters, ribs, burgers, sandwiches, and steaks, all slow cooked, with a variety of traditional barbeque rubs in smokers which the boys have imported directly from the USA.

But as you’d expect from two former St Augustine’s pupils the menu will also have links to their home town.

The proud Oldhamers have promised a variety of surprises throughout their restaurant, all of which relate directly to their Oldham roots, and will be capped off by a secret flagship dish dedicated to the town they love.

For the last few months the 25-year-olds, who were born five days apart at the Royal Oldham Hospital, have been busy renovating the property alongside a team of contractors, eager to welcome diners when the restaurant opens.

One of the most eye-catching elements of the Smoke House development is the planned interior of the property which promises a rustic and trendy environment, similar to the bars and restaurants of Manchester’s Northern Quarter and Spinningfields.

Ata and Luke are also willing to offer apprenticeships, both in the kitchen and front of house, to support local jobseekers in line with the council’s Get Oldham Working Campaign.

Ata said: “Our plans for the ‘Smoke Yard’ are in line with the council’s vision for the Independent Quarter.

“We offer a different dining experience that will attract people into the town centre and the borough itself, which is why we were so keen to invest our money here.

“Our restaurant is just yards from what will be the new ODEON cinema and our vision is to become vital part of an evening out here, offering a unique dining experience to accompany a night at the flicks.”

Through the day the boys will offer a more relaxed environment serving a separate lunch time menu and a variety of cakes and hot drinks.

Luke said: “We often go into Manchester city centre for its diverse dining appeal and wanted to bring something of that nature a few miles up the road. Oldham town centre is changing for the better and as local lads we are excited about being part of that.”

Councillor Jim McMahon, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “I’m delighted that two young Oldham-born lads are prepared to open their first restaurant in our town centre as it shows they have confidence in our plans for the Independent Quarter.

“Ata and Luke could easily have moved out of the borough but they are among a number of restaurateurs, traders and businesses that are helping us regenerate one of the borough’s most important retail and leisure areas.

“You only have to walk round the town centre to see we already have a series of major regeneration projects underway that will enhance our entertainment, cultural and leisure offer and we believe the town centre can become the strongest in the area.

“To help us achieve that we want to attract new businesses like Ata and Luke’s that will bring something unique to the area – making the Independent Quarter a destination in its own right.”

To keep up with the Smoke Yard boys, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter, @Smoke_yard.

Since the Independent Quarter initiative was launched in 2013 a number of businesses have already moved or relocated into new premises after receiving support from the council.

The initial focus is to support businesses in the Independent Quarter in the triangle between Yorkshire Street, Clegg Street and Union Street East.

For further information on Oldham’s Independent Quarter visit:  or call 0161 770 2077.