Brothers brew up 40 jobs for Belfast with coffee hub and burger joint
Exclusive: Edmund and Ronan Byrne expanding in million pound project
Two brothers behind an independent Belfast coffee shop are creating 40 new jobs as they expand their business with a new store and top-end burger joint in a £1 million project, it can be revealed.
Edmund Byrne (45) and his brother Ronan (40) have been running California Coffee on Arthur Street for the last 15 years, turning their love of the roasted bean into a successful enterprise.
Now they are opening at a new bigger location, complete with a specialist burger restaurant at Ann Street in Belfast city centre.
A deal to take over the location was finalised this month, with work already under way on the restaurant and cafe.
"We are hoping to create around 40 new jobs. We are passionate about local business, and this significantly increases our spend locally," Edmund said.
"Our decision came after looking at Dublin, making inroads in that direction. But truthfully, Belfast has performed brilliantly and we didn't want to move.
"We look at Belfast and we see a strong and a bright future here.
"We just completed the deal last week and have been working on it for quite a while. The project is just shy of a million.
"This is significant investment, and is monumental for us. We see it as a long-term investment.
"The plans are to locate a California Coffee on the ground floor and include a kitchen above, offering an extensive menu."
Mr Byrne turned his love of coffee into a business enterprise 15 years ago. Now he's taking what he's learned in the US about making good burgers into his latest venture.
"I really loved drinking coffee, and at the time I couldn't see anywhere good enough," he said.
"It was the same for burgers - I know what it should be and the effort needed to get it right."
The cafe is set to open its doors as early as next month, with the burger joint around three months away.
Edmund first got into coffee following a successful time with his technology business in the US - of which he sold a controlling stake to none other than Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
After moving back to Northern Ireland, he started plans on his coffee business alongside brother Ronan.
And now the pair are to offer handmade, top-quality burgers, after Edmund learned how to create the perfect patty.
"It's a modern take on a very significant product. I spent a lot of time in the US, learning everything from our blend, the grinding of the meat, different cuts and our new cooking gear - that cost £12,000.
"It cooks at a very high heat and everything is even. Even though chains are making big inroads, there is still significant room for people who want to do it bigger and better. There is a strong independent sector, and without that, it's just boring."
With work already started to completely transform the location, the cafe should be open in just a few weeks.
And the team are relocating temporarily from their Arthur Street business while their flagship coffee shop is also refurbished.
It comes as it was revealed US-style burger bar chain Ed's Easy Diner is planning to open a major new restaurant in the heart of Belfast just weeks after launching its first outlet here.
And US chain Five Guys is also eyeing up Belfast locations.