Skinny Kitchen to open three restaurants in Northern Ireland creating 120 jobs
A UK healthy eating restaurant chain is coming to Northern Ireland with plans to create 120 jobs at three locations, it can be revealed.
The Skinny Kitchen is due to open its first premises at the former Browne's Bar and Grill on Boucher Road in Belfast, bringing around 30 jobs. It is being operated as a franchise by Northern Ireland brothers Stephen and Keith Tierney.
There are currently four Skinny Kitchen locations in the UK and Ibiza. It was a branch on the party island that first attracted the brothers.
The chain was founded by Joel Belchem, Lois Breckell and Rachel and David Mason. They are also backed by Duane Lineker - a nephew of footballing hero Gary Lineker - who Mr Belchem describes as a "silent partner".
Mr Belchem said: "We are heading over to Belfast because it's a really good opportunity for us. We really love the city and we really think everyone is going to love it."
Skinny Kitchen serves a range of low-carb and healthy breakfast and lunch alternatives. That includes everything from a cod and chorizo pot, to a free-range green omelette.
Duane Lineker's father Wayne Lineker owns a range of other businesses, including a number of bars in Ibiza, such as Ocean Beach and Lineker's Bar.
Keith Tierney told the Belfast Telegraph: "We saw this franchise when we were in Ibiza and we wanted to bring it to Belfast, with the possibility of rolling it out across Ireland - we have quite ambitious plans."
He explained how impressed they were with the food on offer.
He said: "When we did the tasting, the flavour was there and it was everything healthy eating should be.
"With some places, you can walk away and shrug your shoulders after it - but I thought that this had a fantastic product."
The brothers plan to open three restaurants in the next three years in Belfast and, aside from Boucher, are looking at Botanic and the area close to the new Ulster University campus in the city centre.
The pair are hiring 30 staff for the first restaurant, with around 120 jobs likely to be created in the next 18 months.
"We are aiming to open in the second week in January," Mr Tierney said. "We think it's what Northern Ireland needs.
"With every dish we have, the macros are broken down on it. If you are into training, it breaks it down so you know what you are getting (in your diet) and what you're not getting."
The restaurant is also looking at expanding the chain in the north west.
And Keith is confident there will be enough trade in the Boucher Road area, with several gyms, call centres and other businesses.
"You have six gyms around that area alone - there are also lots of businesses around, and we are going to deliver as well," he explained.
He said the pair were also looking at expansion into Dublin, and they are also eyeing up Dubai as a possibility.
Currently, Northern Ireland's best-known healthy eating chain is Slim's Healthy Kitchen, which operates on Lisburn Road, Belmont Road, Victoria Square, Dundonald and Bangor.
Slim's founder Gary McIldowney has said that employment at Slim's has reached 150 members of staff, with 25 people recruited to work at its units in DW gyms at Boucher Road in Belfast, Bangor, Newtownabbey and Londonderry.
And Slim's Healthy Kitchen could now expand into Scotland in partnership with DW Fitness Clubs. Much of its menu focuses on dishes featuring so-called superfoods like avocado, kale and sweet potatoes.