Belfast's Chelsea Wine Bar to open after £1m facelift
The landmark Chelsea Wine Bar on Belfast's Lisburn Road will reopen on Thursday after a refurbishment costing almost £1m.
Owners Wine Inns, which runs a chain of 12 bars and clubs including the likes of The Empire and the M Club, said that their relaunched venue would be at the forefront of an uplift in south Belfast's social life.
Director of the group Patrick Hunt said that punters' tastes had become more sophisticated, leaving publicans having to work harder to cater for them.
The new incarnation will feature a round bar decorated in gold leaf.
Mr Hunt said: "Our customer today hasn't just heard about great bars elsewhere, they have likely been there and experienced them for themselves.
"Nowadays, the customer rightly expects a lot more from a pub than good drinks – they want beautiful surroundings, exciting food, first-class service and world class entertainment.
"It's not about any one part in isolation – it's about exceeding your customers' expectations at every point," he said.
New manager Lisa Kelly said: "I grew up on the Lisburn Road and people here know the Chelsea as a great place to drop in to eat, drink or just meet some friends. Patrons already expect great service, but this bar is going to blow all those expectations out of the water.
"It's going to really surprise and delight our customers, old and new," she said.
The bar has been redesigned by interior designer Kris Turnbull and his senior architect David Bingham, with upstairs and the ground floor receiving a complete overhaul.
Mr Hunt said the venue had also upped its food offering. "The new menu at the Chelsea is an exciting fusion of flavours from Europe and Asia and will keep customers coming back for more," he said.
Since the bar shut for its facelift a few months ago, the Lisburn Road has seen the arrival of The Albany bar on the site of Lily's.
The reopening of the Chelsea comes after a good summer for Derry and Belfast publicans, thanks to summer visitors attracted by events such as Belfast's World Police and Fire Games and the Fleadh Cheoil in Derry.
Patrons already expect great service, but this bar is going to blow all those expectations right out of the water
Chelsea manager Lisa Kelly and architect David Bingham, from Kris Turnbull, with the plans of the new look Chelsea Bar on Belfast's Lisburn Road which reopens on Thursday