Belfast Telegraph

Belfast's iconic fish and chip shop John Long's gets liquor licence

John Long's on Belfast's Athol Street. Credit: Google
John Long's on Belfast's Athol Street. Credit: Google
Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

Customers at Belfast's longest running fish and chip shop will now be able to enjoy a glass of wine or an ice-cold beer with their seafood.

John Long's - which claims to have the best fish and chips in the city - has been granted a liquor licence for the first time.

Serving suppers since 1914, the restaurant has had some famous visitors over the years, including actors Sean Bean and Brendan Fraser, comedian Dara O'Briain, as well as chart-topping boy band Take That.

According to their website: "Eamonn Holmes even said that if he had only a couple of days to live, he'd end up at Long's for his last meal. From the Big Man that is praise indeed."

John Long's lists itself as among Belfast's "top seven wonders": the Europa Hotel, Linen Hall Library, Peace Walls, Ulster Museum, Harland and Wolff and the Crown Liquor Saloon.

Linus Murray, director at O'Reilly Stewart Solicitors, who specialises in licensing, said it was a great result for John Long's to able to widen their offering.

"There's been a huge response to John Long's being granted a liquor licence. It really seems to have hit a nerve, probably because the restaurant has such a huge local following - its been trading for more than 100 years and is beloved across the city," he said.

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"It's also visited be a host of tourists so being granted a liquor license will enable Long's to improve their offering and in turn attract more visitors.

"A lot of people will ask for a glass of wine when they have there fish and chips, I know of a group of Italian's who visited Long's and when they asked for alcohol and were told they don't serve, they got up and went out the door."

The original John Long converted part of his grocery shop into a restaurant on what was then Mill Street, now Castle Street, in 1914.

In order to cope with the high demand, the eaterie was then moved to its current location on Athol Street by its second owner Walter Titterington, where it set up in what was a disused stitching factory and warehouse.

One of John Long's most distinctive features is the mesh coverings over the windows, put in place during the Troubles due to the heavily-bombed Europa Hotel being nearby.

The coverings are still maintained by the Belfast institution's current owner John Copeland, who took over in 1996.

Belfast Telegraph restaurant critic Joris Minne said John Long's is a "confirmed and prominent component in the fabric of Belfast.

"It is historic, but offers a very modern take on fish and chips and the quality is consistently exceptional," he added.

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