Howard Street Restaurant team set to open new cafe with a focus on breakfasts
The pair behind one of Belfast's most recent restaurant successes are opening a new licensed cafe in a £100,000 investment.
The partners who opened Howard Street are taking over the former Remedy restaurant on Fountain Street and are aiming to create 10 to 15 new jobs.
Chef Marty Murphy and Niall Davis said the new cafe would be the first venue in a planned city centre expansion.
Mr Davis added that they were currently looking at several other premises, the aim being to open another venue within the next six to nine months.
The restaurateur said the new cafe - in the building formerly occupied by Argentinian restaurant La Boca - would offer similar fare to Howard Street. Mr Davis said: "We are a bit behind our ambitions as we had intended to establish another venue within our second year of opening Howard Street.
"But we always aim to do things right and it was important for us to ensure that Howard Street was right before opening anything else.
"At The Permit Room (the new restaurant), we will have a big focus on delicious breakfasts, which is a gap in the Belfast market, with influences from around the world.
"Our lunch offering again will have global influences, including the south eastern Asian fusion cuisine that has been received so well in Howard Street over the last few years."
The fit-out of the old La Boca eaterie has already begun and is being completed by Strong Construction under the design of Oscar & Oscar, the architects behind three-year-old Howard Street. Mr Davis said the cafe would open next month and that recruitment had already started.
It is the first major restaurant opening in Belfast in around two years. Howard Street was launched in 2013 alongside Flame on the same street. They were joined by Michael Deane's Eipic, Love Fish and Meat Locker, also on Howard Street, approximately a year later.
The menu was created by Mr Murphy, but he will remain as head chef in Howard Street.
Belfast Telegraph restaurant critic Joris Minne (right) welcomed the news of the expansion and said mid-range restaurants were helping Belfast build a healthy reputation for food across the UK.
"Belfast's strong point as a destination is its mid-range bistro sector in which places like Howard Street Restaurant and Hadskis stand out," the expert foodie added. "While we now have two Michelin-starred and high-end restaurants, such as James Street South and Muddler's Club, the city's reputation as a foodie capital is based on quality but also on less expensive places.
"This is where Niall Davis and Marty Murphy are very competitive."