Belfast Telegraph

Belfast's City Picnic to reopen 15 months after Primark blaze

City Picnic owners Arthur McAnerney and Gavin Gregg
City Picnic owners Arthur McAnerney and Gavin Gregg
Emma Deighan

By Emma Deighan

A Popular Belfast eatery is set to reopen its doors to the public with a new menu 15 months after it was forced to close following the Primark fire.

City Picnic on Castle Street will open tomorrow at 11am following a £500,000 investment, which has created 35 new jobs.

It is the last city centre tenant affected by the fire in August 2018 to reopen.

Owners and business partners Gavin Gregg and Arthur McAnerney said the restaurant will offer "renewed commitment to speedy service and quality food".

Co-founder Gavin Gregg said that he and Mr McAnerney "have put the fire behind us and will open with a smile".

He added: "We are delighted to finally be reopening City Picnic, having utilised our time after the fire to research and develop our menu to cater to the needs of the people of Belfast and beyond.

"Belfast has seen an influx of new restaurants in recent years, but we wanted to offer up something unique.

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"Our new focus is on swift service without sacrificing the flavour and quality of the food on offer. There are so many tantalising and mouth-watering choices on the new menu that I know customers will love."

Mr McAnerney, added: "Having to close the doors due to the Primark fire was a very difficult time for the business. We operated from a temporary catering trailer in Royal Avenue last year; however, we always knew we were going to eventually reopen in our original home.

"We spent time perfecting the menu, experimenting with innovative new food combinations and testing new recipes. We studied our space and assessed how we can best use the vast unit, making it a culinary hub in the city centre. So, whilst it wasn't ideal to have to close the unit, we are excited about this new chapter for City Picnic. We are confident our customers, old and new, will love the revamp and will thoroughly enjoy the new menu."

City Picnic was forced to close on August 28, 2018 when around 20 staff at the restaurant lost their jobs after the Primark fire.

It was one of many retailers in the area that lost business and had to relocate or close entirely because of safety precautions.

Some retailers succumbed to the financial pressures of a subsequent barrier that interrupted the footfall in the area.

A 40-year-old family curtain shop just outside a former Primark cordon on Fountain Street was one of the first tenants in the area to cease trading.

The Spinning Wheel had 10 employees. At the time of its closure in November last year, it said more than £100,000 worth of stock was damaged by the fire and since the cordon was erected footfall dropped by 75%.

Mr Gregg said City Picnic's premises were "totally smoke damaged" with the entire interior below acceptable levels which required significant investment.

He said: "We're really excited about reopening. This is a new stage for us."

Belfast Telegraph