Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Middle-age kicks won't be hard to beat when Harp Bar goes live

Belfast's Cathedral Quarter
Belfast's Cathedral Quarter

The man behind landmark pub the Duke of York is planning to provide not-so-Teenage Kicks at the former Nick's Warehouse in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter.

Willie Jack will open The Harp Bar on Hill Street in October, paying homage to the bar of the same name and street where Belfast's punks rocked out in the 1970s and early 1980s.

The bar featured prominently in acclaimed movie hit Good Vibrations, the story of Belfast punk svengali Terri Hooley who unleashed Londonderry band The Undertones' song Teenage Kicks.

But it's the kicks of a wrinklier age group which Mr Jack wants to cater for in his new live music venture, in the bonded warehouse which was the home of Nick Price's much-loved restaurant for 24 years until Mr Jack bought it this summer.

"We had to have it as it's the only premises with the full public house licence. It will operate like the Duke of York but with a lot more seats," Mr Jack said.

"I want to cater for anyone from the age of 30 to 80 who wants to listen to good live music."

But the music policy will be strict. "No disco, no karaoke but live music seven nights a week," he said.

Mr Jack and his partner Bruce Kirk, who also own The Dark Horse across from the Duke of York, want to capitalise on the building's origins as a bonded warehouse and the headquarters of the old Bushmills Distillery.

They will display whiskey-related paraphernalia – as well as mirrors and antiques – collected by Mr Jack.

"I have been waiting 20 years for this building – and I also have my eye on another ex-bonded warehouse in Belfast."

He promised that some big names in the music business would perform in the venue but would not reveal who they were.

And while the musicians would be famous, the clientele didn't have to be.

"From the prime minister to the roadsweeper, all will be welcome," he added.

A lamp which stood outside the Ulster Tavern, a Chichester Street pub bombed in the 1980s, is also to be used in the venue.

However, despite whispers in the licensed trade, Mr Jack said that he would not be bidding for McHugh's pub, which is widely regarded as the jewel in the crown of Kurkova Ltd, part of the Botanic Inns empire.

Seven pubs – on sale individually or as a seven-strong portfolio – are on the market following the administration of Botanic Inns Ltd and Kurkova Ltd earlier this year.

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