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'We want to grow our barbecue business across Ireland, but the main focus is to maintain our quality'

 

By Staff Reporter

Belfast barbecue business Bubbacue is opening a new branch in the city and creating 15 jobs at the former home of Cafe Renoir on Botanic Avenue.

Italian eatery Renoir has closed down its south Belfast restaurant after around 20 years in business.

But it will soon be replaced by a new Bubbacue restaurant - located just metres from American owner John Blisard's former food venture, Boojum.

"We are hoping to open mid-June. Its going to be another Bubbacue and a duplicate of the city centre one, this time in the Queen's University area," he said.

"I think we are creating around 15 jobs and maybe a few more with part-timers.

"The building became available, and Botanic is a great spot, as we knew with Boojum. We are retuning home and it's a bit full circle. We thought our offering, our product and brand would be a good match for the students and young professionals."

The restaurant is currently fitting out the building at Botanic, which will become its second restaurant in Belfast.

The original Bubbacue, in Callender Street near City Hall, employs around 20 people and has recently been extensively refurbished.

The restaurant also has its own beer, Bubbabrew, made by Belfast's Boundary Brewing.

Bubbacue serves up a range of slow smoked meat, served with a range of sides such as macaroni cheese, and fries. Mr Blisard said the company has further plans for growth, including looking at different locations across Northern Ireland and the Republic.

"I would love to grow Bubbacue and take it to other cities in the north, and go down south.

"But the main focus is maintaining the quality, which is so good. The quality service and quality food. We aren't going to sacrifice that for expansion."

Mr Blisard, who moved here from Philadelphia with his Co Down-born wife Karen in 2007, enjoyed huge success with his Boojum chain.

His first Boojum outlet in Botanic Avenue started operating in 2007.

However, the business was sold to brothers David and Andrew Maxwell in July 2015.

The new Bubbacue restaurant will sit just a few metres from Boojum in Botanic, which is at a new location on the street.

The Maxwells moved Boojum shortly after taking it over - and Scandi-style coffee shop Kaffe O moved into Boojum's old home.

Mr Blisard said: "It is a bit odd and strange being up from the original location, Kaffe O has taken (the old location) over."

Boojum itself has grown to become Ireland's best-known Mexican fast food brand with nine shops across the island.

It opened its latest restaurant at Victoria Square, and has plans for another on the Lisburn Road, close to Marks & Spencer. It's understood as many as 100 jobs could be created with the latest expansion. It will join existing Boojum restaurants in Belfast at Botanic Avenue, Chichester Street and Great Victoria Street.

It will bring Boojum's shop numbers to 10 across Ireland. That includes five in Belfast, three in Dublin, and one in Galway and Cork.

Boojum uses Deliveroo to serve up its burritos to the home delivery market, and has added a food truck to its range of eating outlets.

Just last month, the home of Boojum in the south of the city went on the market for £450,000. The building is in the student Botanic Avenue area.

The transaction is being handled by commercial property firm Osborne King.

It is being sold by Grant Thornton, which is acting as fixed charge receiver on the building.

Thomas Osborne of Osborne King said: "This property represents an excellent investment opportunity for purchasers.

"Not only is it located within an area popular with students and young professionals, it also benefits from having a well-established business in situ offering an attractive rental income and yield.

"Demand for good quality investment stock continues to grow and we are expecting strong interest in this particular property."

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