Belfast Telegraph

Primrose Bar taken over by former employee Kevin Smyth

By Rachel Martin

An historic Co Down bar has been taken over by a former Belfast hotel manager who worked there as a schoolboy.

The Primrose, on Ballynahinch's Main Street, was once a farrier's shop with a bar in the front and has been a popular spot in the town for over 80 years.

It was once known as Gabbies' Bar, but was renamed The Primrose around 40 years ago.

Ballynahinch man Kevin Smyth leased the bar for around a year before agreeing to buy it from owners the McKibben family. His purchase was supported by Ulster Bank.

Mr Smyth was general manager of Ten Square in Belfast and the Galgorm Resort and is a former chairman of the Institute of Hospitality's Northern Ireland branch.

He said that over the past year, the number of diners in the restaurant had doubled to around 1,200 every week, while staff numbers were up from 12 to 23.

Mr Smyth has already invested around £65,000 refurbishing the restaurant and next year hopes to increase its 76-seat capacity.

"It has always been an ambition to own my own business so when the opportunity to buy The Primrose came along, I jumped at it," he said.

"I am very excited about the possibilities, and we have big plans for the business. I am very grateful for the support I have received from Ulster Bank."

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