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Social enterprise transforms torched bar into cafe-bakery

By Margaret Canning

Published 17/06/2015

From left, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann joined Social Development Minister Meryvn Storey, Now Group chief executive Maeve Monaghan and West Belfast MP Paul Maskey at the opening of the Loaf social enterprise and cafe
From left, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann joined Social Development Minister Meryvn Storey, Now Group chief executive Maeve Monaghan and West Belfast MP Paul Maskey at the opening of the Loaf social enterprise and cafe

A burnt-out bar in west Belfast has been transformed into a cafe and bakery employing 10 people after being taken over by a social enterprise.

Loaf will also use their new bakery at the site of the old Oak Bar to provide up to 100 training placements for catering trainees with learning difficulties.

The business is part of social enterprise the Now Group, which puts all profits from its activities towards social good. It also has a successful catering business and operates the Bobbin Cafe at Belfast City Hall.

Maeve Monaghan, chief executive of the NOW Group, said that the development has been "a long time coming for Loaf".

"We bought the Oak Bar back in March 2014 and hoped the redevelopment would be fully-funded," she added.

"However, we've secured loan finance and used our own monies to turn this around.

"The building was in such poor repair, we ended up doing a lot more work than planned, so we were grateful to have received additional capital investment from the Department for Social Development and £5,000 of crowd-funding."

The crowd-funding was won in December when Loaf featured in a Dragon's Den-style fundraising event for charities, organised by Giving Northern Ireland and the Funding Network.

Belfast Telegraph

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