Belfast bar to build rooftop terrace in £350k extension
Premises that once housed Belfast's smallest bar will double in size and have a rooftop terrace if a planning application to extend into a neighbouring building is approved.
Muriel's Cafe Bar on Church Lane has applied to take over the former Perfect Fit clothing alterations building, which spans two floors.
It has plans to expand its Pablos takeaway, next door to Muriel's, into the shop unit's ground floor and use the upper two floors to extend Muriel's.
If approved, it will mark owner Janine Kane's third major hospitality investment here in recent months.
Last summer the publican, who also owns The Spaniard Bar on Skipper Street, injected £300,000 into the former House Bar in Stranmillis, which had a refurbishment and relaunched as The Jeggy Nettle.
And just four weeks ago she opened a £300,000 "new concept" cafe deli, Panama City Garden and Cafe, on McClintock Street parallel to Bedford Street, creating 10 new jobs.
Part of the recent application will see Pablos double its size on the ground floor and become a specialist tequila and tacos outfit.
"We would hope to start work in March or April and that will be a four-week project," said Ms Kane of the £350,000 scheme at Muriel's, which will add 10 new roles to the business.
"We are obviously very interested in creating new jobs in Belfast and we are looking forward to realising the extension which we believe will add to the Cathedral Quarter."
Belfast Telegraph food critic Joris Minne said rooftops are increasing in popularity.
"Babel in Belfast, Sophie's in Dublin and any amount of these hip and trendy spots are popping up on the top floors of buildings all over Europe. As long as there are plenty of gas heaters for our climate, it's bound to be a success," he said.
Formerly a milliner's, Muriel's was named after the sailortown heritage of the area. Janine said Muriel, a fictional character inspired by the unit's history, was a "milliner by day and an angel of the footpath by evening".
She added: "It really gives the venue a personality."
Muriel's site was once the home of Belfast's smallest pub, The Glass Jar, after which it was called Nicholl's Bar.
Since its launch as Muriel's over 10 years ago the current setup has evolved to become one of Belfast's most treasured bars.
Its moody interior has nods to its past, with clothes lines of lingerie.
It also has one of Northern Ireland's biggest gin collections, with 150 varieties on offer.