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Freight to open second Belfast restaurant


Freight's restaurant in east Belfast.

Freight's restaurant in east Belfast.

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Freight's restaurant in east Belfast.

Trendy east Belfast restaurant Freight will open a sister branch, Freight 2, on the Lisburn Road at the weekend, Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Belfast brothers Gerard and Christopher McQuillan’s newest venture is based at 423 Lisburn Road.

The McQuillans opened their first cafe and restaurant inside old shipping containers in CS Lewis Square in 2017 and said its popularity has now led them to open Freight 2.

The brothers also have ambitions to open a third restaurant and also a bar in Belfast.

Christopher McQuillan said: “We just thought, strike while the iron is hot.

“This restaurant on the Lisburn Road was actually never meant to be Freight 2.

“We had a completely different concept in mind and the builders were due to start on it three weeks ago.

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“But the Saturday before they started, we had a massive queue out the door at Freight, it was relentless.

“I said to Gerard that we needed to open a Freight 2. Gerard agreed so we have put the other concept on the back burner and plan to open it in a third restaurant as soon as we can.”

He said the opening weekend of the Lisburn Road branch will kick off with two “Gypsy Kitchen” tasting menus on Friday and Saturday.

Both nights are fully booked with a waiting list of 180 people.

The restaurant will then open to the public on Monday for brunch from 8am to 4pm. Freight 2 will be open for brunch every day, including Sundays, and open late for an a la carte menu on Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays. The restaurant is fully licensed.

Christopher said he and his brother had been working “morning and night” to get the Lisburn Road building ready for opening at the weekend.

Christopher has a background in mixology and looks after the front of house and Gerard is the chef, having previously worked under Michael Deane and worked as head chef at Dublin’s National Concert Hall.

Their successful journey began with their series of pop-up nights and called “The Gypsy Kitchen.” Their relationship with east Belfast community organisation East Side Partnership led to taking over the shipping containers, where a cafe had previously been operating.

It now regularly does 350 covers on a Saturday in a 50-seater restaurant.

Christopher said: “We will continue to focus on great local ingredients and drinks and creative menus in Freight 2.

“Expect to see everything from roast scallop to smoked eel to BBQ duck on the menu and we will also focus on organic, biodynamic wines, a small, tasty cocktail menu and a rotation of local craft beers,” he said.

“In the run up to Christmas we will also be doing a festive menu, but this won’t be your normal turkey dinner.

“I think [the magic formula] is our European style of dining, we like to make people feel relaxed and be creative with our food and drinks, but everything is professional.

"In two years, we will have two restaurants, a pop-up and a cafe and hope to open a third restaurant and bar soon. Our third restaurant and bars are concepts, we think, Belfast has never seen before,” he said.