Italian restaurant to create 20 new roles
An Italian restaurant is set to open in Belfast's Victoria Square in March with the creation of 20 new jobs.
The opening of Prezzo on the site of the former La Tasca restaurant means that all 20 of the shopping centre's restaurant units will be occupied.
The Essex-based company, with more than 200 restaurants in Great Britain, is spending around £550,000 redeveloping the site.
Chief executive Jonathan Kaye said: "We are looking forward to opening our first restaurant in Northern Ireland.
"We are confident it will prove popular and be an asset to the social scene in Belfast."
Meanwhile, Treat Boutique dessert house has just opened on the upper ground floor in the centre, creating six jobs.
Owner, Shivani Robinson of R-amp;S Desserts, sells cupcakes, afternoon tea, wedding cakes and gift jar cookie mixes, alongside other Northern Ireland produce.
"We've taken a risk making the leap to a unit," Ms Shivani said.
"But I've built my reputation on good quality ingredients and the location is great."
Victoria Square manager, Hugh Black, said its coffee shops and restaurants are trading seven days a week and all doing well.
"In the current climate the majority are trading up on last year," he said. We targeted the evening economy and that has come to fruition."
University of Ulster retail expert, Donald McFetridge, said consumers see shopping as part of the wider leisure experience.
"I think the secret of the success in Victoria Square is down to variety with a wide range of dining experiences at prices to meet all, or most, pockets," he said.
"When consumers go shopping they want to combine this with a meal or dining experience to complement the retail side of their expedition."
Belfast Telegraph food critic Joris Minne added: "Food can be treated as a cultural experience as much as a retail leisure act. What Victoria Square does is good and popular, so I hope it works out."