When I first moved to east Belfast a number of years ago it’s fair to say that there really wasn’t an awful lot going on and certainly there wasn’t a decent eatery or pub in the vicinity.
However, I am delighted to say that all that is changing. When the Mandarin City opened I was there so often they send me quarterly rates bills, and there was great excitement when Horatio Todds opened recently.
Bill Wolsey is a man who never lets the grass grow under his feet and the most recent addition to his hospitality empire is the Little Wing Pizza group. The latest in the chain has just opened on the Upper Newtownards Road, a couple of weeks after opening on the Lisburn Road. Bill’s son Conall will be taking charge and I think it’s safe to say that these Little Wings are definitely taking off.
To make sure everything was tickety-boo when the doors opened the restaurant held a few trial evenings for charities and groups. I went along to one being run in aid of the Queen’s University Rowing Club.
I was delighted to see my old mate Mickey O’Neill and his lovely wife Ann.
Their beautiful daughter Toni was behind the evening so not only did the staff get a chance to spread their Little Wings, the rowing club is now nearly £600 better off.
But it’s not just restaurants and bars that are opening, there are a lot of other businesses heading east.
Groomers to the stars Brenda and Jason Shankey are based here and they have joined with a number of other businesses to set up Go East, a website showing everything that the villages in this area have to offer. The ever dapper native of the east Julian Simmons was on hand to help with the launch in the newly opened Café Smart.
The eastern café society is really to be recommended — Bennetts at Belmont started the ball rolling a couple of years ago. Now you can’t pass a corner without seeing a cupcake. Check it out on www.goeastbelfast.com.
When a friend of mine moved in around the corner from me, after returning from working in New York for a few years, I said “welcome to the east”. She replied “Oh no – we live in the Upper East Side darling!” – I couldn’t agree more.
Meanwhile, on a completely different note, Lisburn was the venue for the opening of Julian Carson’s Kapital Ink tattoo studio in the city’s Market Place.