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Boojum rolls out new Mexican fast-food outlets in Northern Ireland

By John Mulgrew

Mexican fast-food chain Boojum is opening two new restaurants in Belfast as it expands its reach across the city. The burrito giant is adding a new store on the Lisburn Road, close to Marks & Spencer.

And it's also set to compete with some of the UK and US's biggest food chains at Victoria Square.

It's understood as many as 100 new jobs could be created with the latest expansion.

Plans have been submitted for the new store on the Lisburn Road, taking a unit beside the retail development housing Marks & Spencer Foodhall.

It's combining two separate units, one of which was formerly home to an estate agency.

It's believed talks are still underway to secure its new restaurant site at Victoria Square.

Boojum will go up against a raft of big name eateries at the city centre retail spot.

These include Italian chains such as Pizza Express and Zizzi, along with burger joint Five Guys.

But Mexican chain Chiquito is closing its doors at the centre. The chain is part of The Restaurant Group, which also owns Frankie & Benny's.

Belfast Telegraph food critic Joris Minne said: "Boojum is a wonderful phenomenon. When John Blisard first introduced the concept to Belfast, people had little or no clue as to what a burrito was. Now, Boojum has achieved what is often considered miraculous by marketing people: becoming a generic term. In our family we talk about having a Boojum for dinner."

Owners, brothers David and Andrew Maxwell, opened their latest Boojum restaurant in Belfast city centre last summer.

The 95-seater restaurant at Great Victoria Street was also aimed at tackling the corporate catering market, as well as servicing the lunch and evening crowd in the city centre.

The brothers say there are several more stores in the pipeline.

They took over Boojum, which was first set up as a unit in Belfast's Botanic Avenue by founder John Blisard, two years ago.

Andrew is also well-known in sporting circles as a former Ulster Rugby and Irish rugby union player.

They are now "actively looking" for more locations in Dublin and in Belfast.

In the Republic, Boojum currently has three restaurants in Dublin and another one in Galway.

And they are also due to open a new restaurant in Cork, creating around 30 new jobs.

Boojum is also using Deliveroo to serve up its burritos to the fast-food home delivery market.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last year about expansion across Ireland, the pair said: "We have seen really strong growth in Dublin and Belfast.

"The Abbey Street store (in Dublin) is doing really well, and is outperforming where we thought we were going to be.

"... this won't be the last project we do in Belfast," they added.

The Maxwells had been working in the restaurant and food business for several years before deciding to take on the company.

Speaking about the Great Victoria Street restaurant, David Maxwell said: "We have added additional kitchen space ... with this store we have geared up to go for larger, corporate catering orders.

"The way it's set up, for us to process a large corporate order there would be zero disruption to the main line.

"Currently in the Belfast stores we don't have that luxury. It's a big step for us."

And Boojum has also added a new food truck to its range of eating venues.

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