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Stix & Stones businessman behind plan for eatery beside Newry canal

A Belfast businessman is behind the bid to open a new restaurant on the site of the former tax office on Merchant Quay in Newry, Business Telegraph can reveal.

John Trainor, who runs two Stix & Stones restaurants in Belfast, is director of Oxford Street 2017 Ltd.

The company has submitted a planning application to open the restaurant in a vacant modern retail unit at Custom House on 23 Merchants Quay, close to the Canal Court Hotel.

The £2m commercial building, which overlooks the canal, was the first major new mixed-use build seen in Newry city centre for nearly a decade when it was unveiled in late 2016.

While most of the former tax office was demolished, the new project has retained the floor slab and structural steel from the original building.

Custom House is owned by Downshire Quay LLP, a company led by Andrew Linton and Paula McHenry.

Part of the building is already occupied by South Down Dental Clinic, but plans are now in motion to convert one of the remaining ground floor units into Newry's newest restaurant.

Documents submitted to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council by Oxford Street 2017 Ltd indicate the new venture will be a well-established restaurant brand, suggesting it could become the third Stix & Stones venue in the growing franchise.

Oxford Street 2017 also lists Joanne Mulligan as a director. She has a range of business interests across Northern Ireland. Mr Trainor's other business interests include Island Events, a Belfast-based security company.

Stix & Stones originally opened in May 2014 on Belfast's Upper Queen Street as a steak and seafood restaurant, serving its meat on a hot stone to continue cooking at the customers' table.

Mr Trainor then opened a second Stix & Stones venue three years later, at the Balmoral Hotel in west Belfast. Now he looks set to open a third, in Newry.

A report submitted in support of his planning application described the city as having the potential to attract "an abundance of tourists" from both north and south of the border.

The document described Merchant Quay as being well suited to the new restaurant, adding that the street will benefit from "additional night life breathing life into this quieter city canal location".

Belfast Telegraph