Belfast Telegraph

Popular Belfast cafe put up for sale by owner - spilling the beans on coffee culture

By Lesley Houston

Coffee shop and ice-cream parlour Cafe Mauds on Belfast's Lisburn Road has been put on the market, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Cafe Mauds is being sold as "a going concern" and has been described in a classified advertisement as a "hugely successful, profitable cafe prominently located in south Belfast".

It's understood the cafe will also be placed for sale through agents DTZ McCombe Pierce, though the asking price has not been disclosed.

Owner John Pell distributes the enduringly popular Mauds ice-cream throughout Ireland through his company North South Retail (NSR).

He also runs a cafe of the same name in Newcastle, which he opened with his wife Patricia in 1992.

Cafe Mauds occupies the site of the designer menswear shop Carter which closed down in 2010. The NSR managing director set up the cafe in its place a year later. Yesterday, Mr Pell told the Belfast Telegraph he was selling up to concentrate on his other business interests.

Paul Maconaghie, of nearby business Framar Health and a member of the Lisburn Road Traders' Association, said he had been impressed with the consistent footfall at Cafe Mauds.

"It will be good to see Mauds continuing to trade on the road and while maybe there will be a change of management, we certainly don't want to see any empty units," he said.

The cafe appears to attract a diverse spectrum of patrons, from the passing trade of parents with children attracted by the ice-cream to those lured by treats including the heady mix of hot waffles and ice-creams praised by effusive fans on social media.

And despite the competition of an abundance of eating establishments, Cafe Mauds, like its neighbours – which include Greens Pizza and Michael Deane's Deane and Decano – enjoys an ebullient following for its own particular niche.

University of Ulster retail expert Donald McFetridge said cafe culture was thriving around Northern Ireland.

He said: "We have taken cafe culture to our hearts.

"These days the high street is becoming increasingly populated by coffee shops and tea rooms.

"In fact, Coleraine – for example – has reportedly in excess of 25 coffee shops, all offering their unique blend of the coffee experience.

"The expansion of coffee culture is giving people a new combination of retail mixed with leisure. In recessionary times, when shoppers had less discretionary income to spend on impulse purchases, they were at least able to experience town centre life from the comfort of coffee shops and tea rooms.

"In times when there was less money around, shoppers (who weren't splashing out on new sofas or high-end fashion and footwear) were still able to afford a sometimes arguably over-priced cup of coffee in a wide variety of coffee shops.

"Coffee (and tea) is the lowest social common denominator: it's the great leveller."

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