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Belfast Ulster Sports Club becomes retro music venue


The front bar of the new-look Ulster Sports Club on Belfast’s High Street

The front bar of the new-look Ulster Sports Club on Belfast’s High Street

The front bar of the new-look Ulster Sports Club on Belfast’s High Street

The Ulster Sports Club has been relaunched as one of Belfast's newest music venues by its owners, the Beannchor Group.

The hospitality company behind the Merchant Hotel bought the three-storey venue on High Street late last year.

The social club closed its doors after 91 years at the end of December.

Beannchor was given planning permission to extend the Merchant Hotel on Skipper Street into the venue.

It is understood that the group, which is headed by Bill Wolsey, will retain the building as a bar and lounge, with plans to open a street food-style restaurant in the coming days.

Beannchor has already recruited new staff and carried out refurbishments inside the Ulster Sports Club.

The hospitality chain, which enjoys a strong presence in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter, has embraced the former social club's retro feel, turning it into a venue with "a heavy lean to the left-of-centre".

The bar has undergone a soft opening in recent weeks ahead of its official launch, which is due to take place next week.

While Beannchor has left the exterior untouched, the interior has had a facelift, with a new-look front bar, lounge and upstairs.

It is understood that a beer garden is in the works.

Music has been placed front and centre of the pub's offering, with a packed programme of bands and DJs booked for both the lounge and upstairs.

US singer-songwriter Howe Gelb has already performed at the venue as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.

The Ulster Sports Club joins an expanding list of Beannchor venues, including The Merchant and Bullitt hotels, Little Wing, Yardbird, The Dirty Onion, The National and The Hillside in Co Down.

Last year the group's turnover climbed by 9% to £25.8m, with staff levels reaching 576 by June of 2018.

The company has continued its expansion plans. In February it announced a £4m bid to open a new four-star Haslem hotel in the centre of Lisburn.

The 52-bedroom hotel will include a residents' gym, a conference room, lobby bar and restaurant and an underground car park.

February also saw the group complete a £350,000 renovation of High Street venue The National following a month-long revamp, which installed a fully retractable awning and heating system in its beer garden.

Beannchor's Cloth Ear venue, situated next to The Merchant, has also benefited from a £500,00 investment, which will create 10 new jobs.

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