Deer's Head bows to progress: Famous old city centre tavern is given a new name in trendy revamp
A much-loved name is vanishing from the Belfast pub scene amid plans to pull pints in new premises.
After some years of keeping their heads below the optics, publicans in the city think now is the right time to try something new.
Brian McGeown and Anthony Farrell, owners of trendy restaurant and nightclub Love & Death, have acquired the lease on the Deer's Head, a beloved "old man's pub" on Lower Garfield Street with a reputation for pub grub.
It will be renamed Aether & Echo and open its doors to act as a hub during the city's Culture Night on September 20.
Mr McGeown said the pub scene was in a state of flux after two or three quiet years.
"Some would say we are stupid to do this but they said the same when we opened Love & Death, and we're still here," he said.
"But people want to socialise with their friends no matter what their financial predicament."
He cited recent developments, such as the refurbishment of Lily's on Lisburn Road, the opening of the Grande National Bar on High Street in Belfast and the prospect of new owners running pubs in the former Botanic Inns portfolio, which are currently up for sale.
"People will be able to go out to different bars they like every night of the week," he said.
Meanwhile, the operators of the oldest pub in the city, White's Tavern, have announced their first expansion in over a decade as they take over the lease on landmark pub The Point in east Belfast.
Stephen and Kris Nixon said they had received round 200 applications for 12 positions at the Ballyhackamore bar, including from many former franchisees and business owners.
John Martin, who negotiated the lease on the Point, said: "This has been a good going concern in east Belfast and it's now been leased out to a successful publican."
STORY SO FAR
The Deer's Head and Fountain Tavern bars in Belfast were sold by Kiltonga Properties to wholesaler Drinks Inc in August. Drinks Inc has also bought Irene & Nan's on Brunswick Street. The trio of pubs are the latest in a number of acquisitions by Drinks Inc, which leases out the pubs it buys. It bought the pub formerly known as Lily's on Lisburn Road from the Diamond Group. Lily's is set to be reopened as the Albany by tenant Calla House Ltd after a £700,000 refit.