Landmark Belfast pub Auntie Annie's is reopening under new management after four years in administration, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
Pub owners Jar Ltd, led by Paul Camplisson, have reached an agreement with fixed charge receivers to reopen the Dublin Road venue as early as this week
The pub, famed for its contribution to Belfast's live music scene, has been on the market – originally with an asking price of £650,000 – since former owners CDC Leisure went into administration.
But Mr Camplisson confirmed yesterday that Jar Ltd had stepped in to manage it, with a view to buying it in the not-too-distant future.
CDC Leisure administrators KPMG said they could not comment on the agreement yesterday.
In a further sign of optimism in the sector, west Belfast pub McEnaney's – also known as the Gravediggers due to its proximity to Milltown Cemetery – is also opening up under new management.
Mr Camplisson said: "Jar has entered a management agreement to reopen the former Auntie Annie's with an option to purchase. We are keen to add further bars and off-sales to our portfolio and are in talks about potential future acquisitions."
Exercising the option to purchase the pub would depend on the pub's licence being transferred, he said.
He added: "It's a shame that it closed in the first place but that's the way of the world.
"We are hoping to bring it back to where it was, but also have more live music and a craft beer element."
The reopened pub will face competition from Filthy McNasty's pub and nightclub on the other side of the road, which opened in 2010.
But Mr Camplisson said: "I do believe they have two different clientele though there could even be some crossover."
Jar has built up a portfolio of eight pubs in Belfast which it leases out to tenants, including the Albany, the Fountain Tavern, Aether & Echo (formerly the Deer's Head, Shiro (formerly Irene & Nan's) and the Devenish Arms.
Mr Camplisson said it a ninth purchase was planned for coming weeks, in addition to its hopes of buying Auntie Annie's.
Meanwhile, McEnaney's has a new owner – a team of private investors who earlier bought the Parador and Ryan's.
The pub – which recently reopened – has been leased out to Antrim GAA hurling All-Star Terence McNaughton in partnership with Gerard Holden.
Mr McNaughton, who also owns a bar in the Glens of Antrim, said: "McEnaney's always had a great reputation, and we will be trying to bring it back to that.
"It used to be a great community pub and everyone used to talk about spending their weekend nights in the Gravediggers."
McEnaney's had been on the market with an asking price of £600,000, following the administration of former owner Omara.