A restaurant in Oldham which described the Coliseum as its "bread and butter" is receiving some well-deserved attention for its role in saving the town's beloved theatre.

Valentino's Restaurant on Retiro Street is not only popular for serving up authentic Italian dishes but has proved a pivotal meeting place for Oldham Coliseum campaigners.

When the beloved Fairbottom Street theatre closure sent shockwaves through the community in March last year, the campaign group Save Oldham Coliseum quickly mobilised into action. 

Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to The Oldham Times’ morning and evening newsletters as well as our breaking news alerts 

Over the past few months, Valentino's has welcomed campaigners under its roof for private fortnightly meetings where the group plotted public campaigns from a "flash panto mob" through the town centre to the creation of a film.

Save Oldham Coliseum campaigners outside the restaurant with the leader of the Council and Jim McMahon MP Save Oldham Coliseum campaigners outside the restaurant with the leader of the Council and Jim McMahon MP (Image: Save Oldham Coliseum)

They also conjured up action plans and held discussions with Oldham Council and local MPs, including Jim McMahon MP, which ultimately brought their dreams of restoring the theatre into reality.

The star-studded short film, Our Sleeping Beauty (True Love's Kiss) celebrates the rich history of the 138-year-old theatre and features a poem, written and performed by the Coronation Street star and avid Coli campaigner, Julie Hesmondhalgh.

It gained more than 600,000 views in the 24 hours it was released following its private screening among campaigners at Valentino's restaurant.

Now that the Coliseum has been saved with a £10m lifeline announced on Monday, July 8, the restaurant has been filmed and featured in a segment on BBC Breakfast for its role in supporting the campaign group.

Valentino's is celebrating the good newsValentino's is celebrating the good news (Image: Google Maps/Save Oldham Coliseum/Valentino's)

Speaking to the BBC, Valentino's owner, Sevastian La Manna, said: "Oldham Coliseum is very important to us because it was our bread and butter.

"Especially during the weekends.

"We've been here 27 years and we've seen a big drop in business since the Coliseum closed. 

"So hopefully, when it reopens, it'll bring a little bit of business back to us and keep us going for another 27 years."

The restaurant is also highly regarded amongst diners and readers of The Oldham Times who consider Valentino's to be Michelin-star worthy.

Save Oldham Coliseum campaigner Jane Barker also told the BBC reporter: "I just can't put it into words. I've had a massive smile on my face ever since I found out.

"I think to have the Coliseum back will give everyone in the area such a huge boost."

Celebrating their TV debut, Valentino's said in a post on social media: "Saving Oldham Coliseum, one pizza and pasta at a time.

"We can now say visit Valentino's, as seen on TV.

"We're incredibly proud to be a part of Saving Oldham Coliseum."

There was an exclusive screening of the film in the restaurantThere was an exclusive screening of the film in the restaurant (Image: Save Oldham Coliseum)

Speaking to a crowd of more than 100 residents outside Fairbottom Street on Monday (July 8), council leader Arooj Shah said:  “Oldham Council has listened to local people. I can now reveal that we will bring the Coliseum back to life in time for the Christmas Panto 2025.

“We are formally committing £10 million for this major programme that will see our famous venue open its doors to the public once more.

"We are working together for the future of theatre in this town. It's a big part of our plans - putting culture at the centre of transforming our town centre and creating a better Oldham for everyone.”

Julie also addressed the crowd in the tearful announcement, saying: “This is a cause for celebration for so many people who have come together to show their passion for the theatre and bringing the Oldham Coliseum back to life.

"Oldham Council has shown a fantastic commitment to re-opening the Coliseum, and by working together, we can really put arts and culture at the heart of a transformed town centre.

"It feels like the start of a new, exciting era and it’s one that has been driven by the people of Oldham.”

Julie and Cllr Shah revealed the news to a huge crowd on MondayJulie and Cllr Shah revealed the news to a huge crowd on Monday (Image: Newsquest, Olivia Bridge)

Jim McMahon MP, who was unable to attend the public event as he took up his new position in the cabinet, also said: “This announcement is the direct result of people coming together to stand up for the things that matter in their communities.

"The outcry from the people of Oldham and beyond at the Coliseum’s closure was testament to the value that culture and the arts have in forging relationships to places and between people. 

“This investment, working alongside a model that brings local arts organisations and local people together with a shared stake in its future, will help secure not only this fantastic building with its amazing heritage but also the future of producing theatre in this borough.

“Theatres in this country have suffered not only from the impact of the economic crisis, as hard-hit families have been forced to reprioritise budgets and spend less on cultural activities, but also from reductions in central arts funding and from the squeeze on local government budgets who local arts organisations rely on for much of their funding. 

“This innovative approach across organisations in Oldham and beyond to develop a more cooperative model of ownership and operation will help ensure that the Coliseum Theatre, and hopefully others across the country who may find a similar model useful, become stronger and more resilient and are able to continue their inspirational work for generations to come.”

If you have a story, I cover all things Oldham from food reviews and local business news to music and events, pubs, education, crime, property, health, community concerns and much more. Please email me at Olivia.bridge@newsquest.co.uk or send me a message on Twitter @Livbridge with your news.