The Medicine Tap
A former post office building that had been neglected since closing down has been restored and repurposed to create a brand new restaurant, bar and coffee shop destination. The Medicine Tap, which opened in March, is located in the heart of Rochdale town centre opposite the renowned town hall.
The creation of the Medicine Tap has given the Grade II listed building a new lease of life and ensures the general public can discover the delights of an architectural gem. An all-day destination, the Medicine Tap has something for everyone, whether it’s takeaway coffee just before work or drinks and a bite to eat after.
Customers have a choice of 30 draught beers while the large, state-of-the-art kitchen including a pizza oven is on hand to serve quality dishes. The Medicine Tap is very much a casual dining destination with a family feel – there’s even a toy box and board games for entertainment.
This latest addition to the Rochdale hospitality scene, which is currently enjoying a steady upturn, is the brainchild of owners John Stoner and Caroline Norton. The pair, who also own the Mighty Medicine Brewery, have drawn on their extensive business experience to create the Medicine Tap and have put an immeasurable amount of time and effort into taking the venue from planning through to opening.
As much of the original post office building as possible has been retained and incorporated into the new design. First opened in 1923, the building was designed by renowned architect Sir Charles Wilkinson and has consistently been recognised as one of the town’s finest.
A major emphasis has been placed on quality materials to match the grandeur of the building. The bespoke bar that immediately catches your eye as you walk in is solid oak while the new slate flooring was chosen following extensive research into the building’s past.
Quirky original features such as post boxes and weighing scales are dotted throughout. The former strong rooms are now home to the disabled toilets. The attention to detail is no more evident than the male toilets where bespoke made stainless steel kegs make up the urinals and sinks. Work is also set to begin on a dedicated cocktail bar that will double up as function room.
Following a hectic first week of trading that saw large numbers brave artic conditions for the mayoral grand opening, Premier Hospitality sat down with John to find out a little bit more about his grand project:
“I walked in and it immediately reminded me of when I went skiing in Germany, I would’ve only been about 16, and there was a bar really similar to this. Walking round I could just see it but it was quite easy because I was just replicating what I’d seen in Germany. It reminded me so much of that building I just thought I’ve got to do it.
“This building was probably one of the best Post Offices out there. It’s certainly not the biggest but it’s got character and style. Sir Charles Wilkinson, the building’s architect, openly said this was the best post office he ever worked on.
“If you’ve got a great big open space like this and you don’t want to enclose it, and to a certain extent we had to keep everything open, you put your dining around the outside and keep you bar area open. We didn’t want to flood the space with tables and chairs.
“We’ve put our heart and soul into this. Before starting the job I bet I spent a month in here looking at all the elements. To look at it now you’d think it was easy but the challenges we had with the services, forming the kitchen, the cold room – it was a nightmare. However, what we’ve ended up with, I think if you had £5 million to building and open restaurant, you wouldn’t end up with something too dissimilar to this. This building was built to be a bar, it’s absolutely perfect.
“We’ve achieved something that doesn’t exist anywhere else. We haven’t been able to copy off another bar or restaurant because the building is so unique.”
The Medicine Tap is the latest edition to a burgeoning hospitality scene in Rochdale that has seen a number of high quality venues open in recent years.