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WITH its deep red decor, plush armchairs, proper teapots and best China cups, Bury soapstar Jennie McAlpine’s restaurant seems a far cry from Roy's Rolls and the Rovers.

But with its traditional grub and friendly Northern welcome, Annies in Manchester city centre has plenty in common with the nation’s most famous eateries, albeit thankfully without the drama of the cobbles.

Since opening its doors 18 months ago, Coronation Street actress Jennie, aged 30, and her boyfriend Chris Farr have enjoyed meeting countless customers, with many becoming regulars.

Jennie, who has played Fiz in the ITV soap since 2001, said: “I feel really fortunate because we do have regulars that come and they do have their special times here which is really lovely — birthdays, wedding celebrations, baby showers which are all the rage now.

“A lot of ladies come for afternoon tea for the baby showers. That’s the bit I really love, seeing people celebrate. Seeing people over and over again, just meeting people.

“We might meet a husband and wife then their kids the next week.”

The former St Gabriel's RC High School pupil may find herself enjoying her own baby shower in the coming months at the restaurant, which is certainly a family affair.

Jennie, who announced last month she is expecting her first child with Chris, said: “It’s a family environment, people come with their families.

“Our parents are always here. Chris’ mum was here yesterday.

“That’s what hopefully makes it an original place for Manchester, for the city.

“You get them a lot in the suburbs.

“You don’t feel like you’re in a city. It helps with our position because we’re tucked away.”

Located on Old Bank Street, just off St Ann’s Square, visitors are invited to tuck into homemade soups (£4.85), pies (£12.95) and lunchtime classics including fish and chips (£13.95) and Annies Steak Burger (£13.95) topped off by the likes of sticky toffee pudding (5.95) or jam roly poly (£5.95).

Jennie said: “I love good food. I’ve been to so many places where I’ve been served bad food.

“If you’re paying for it with your hard-earned money, you should enjoy it. It’s not just Northern food, it’s nice Northern hospitality that I love.”

With a background in catering, Chris, from Salford, used to run Smiths restaurant in Eccles before turning his attention to Annies which also welcomes customers for afternoon tea and pre-theatre dining.

MELANIE WALLWORK