Bar boss blasts 'tough' rates increases
Revaluations would put your lights out: publican
A publican has warned that the recent rates revaluation has been so tough on Belfast bars it could "put your lights out".
Anthony Farrell, co-owner of Love and Death, said the rates revaluation could lead to some places closing down, after the Ann Street bar was hit with close to a four-fold increase in its bill.
Now its annual rates bill has soared from £1,367 to £5,372.
The new business rates came into force this month for all non-domestic properties, the first revaluation since 2001.
Love and Death's proximity to Victoria Square Shopping Centre has triggered its steep rates bill rise.
Mr Farrell and his business partner Brian McGeown last week launched a new cocktail bar A.P.O.C. upstairs in Aether & Echo on Lower Garfield Street. The new bar has created seven new jobs and represents a £70,000 investment. Mr Farrell said: "We are catering for a side of the market that wants something interesting. We are focused on old (cocktail) recipes but we want to bring them up-to-date."
The drinks menu will include cocktails like beetroot hollandaise with champagne and IPA (India Pale Ale) foam.
A.P.O.C. will be open from 5pm between Wednesday and Saturday, and the bar will also launch a membership programme.
It will be limited to 40 members and has already seen "some keen interest," Mr Farrell said.
But he said the new rates regime "could put your lights out" - and he said he had considering moving Love and Death to a different part of the city.
He added: "We are thinking of moving the businesses for lower rates.
"If the right thing came up it would be silly for us not to look at our options.
"It's going to hit everyone quite a bit, and why are they going after the bar trade? We are chatting with Pubs of Ulster and see where it goes."
Pub chain JD Wetherspoon is due to open on Royal Avenue soon, close to Aether & Echo, but Mr Farrell believes it shouldn't hit its business.
"I don't think it will affect us too much," he said.