Belfast Telegraph

Calla House offering, The Albany, to create more than 50 posts

By Margaret Canning

The team behind The Albany on Belfast's Lisburn Road have said the pub will bring an economic boost to its own area and the wider hospitality sector.

Director Paul Langsford said: "In recent months we have seen the important role that a thriving hospitality sector plays in the development and growth of the local economy through visitor numbers, tourism and employment."

Pubs and restaurants on the Lisburn Road have undoubtedly enjoyed an uplift in trade over the summer, thanks to the array of sporting and music events which have been taking place.

A King's Hall concert by Bruce Springsteen attended by tens of thousands of fans last month brought revellers to the King's Head across the road from the concert venue, while restaurants and cafes welcomed hardy fans of the Boss who camped out for days ahead of the event.

The King's Hall also hosted the opening ceremony of the World Police and Fire Games earlier this month, and competitors and their guests dutifully clocked in to the King's Head afterwards.

Three nights of concerts on Boucher Road for Tennent's Vital also brought extra crowds to the King's Head, which is now part of the Horatio Group since the administration of Botanic Inns Ltd earlier this year. But in the past few years, shops on the Lisburn Road have experienced mixed fortunes, with some retailers – including fancy goods shop Living, next to The Albany – closing thanks to high rents, rates and the impact of the downturn in consumer spending.

Retailers have pointed the finger at landlords for not being more flexible. SDLP south Belfast councillor Claire Hanna said: "Rents were set at the peak of the housing bubble, and shops closing create a lose-lose situation. The tenant loses their business, the landlord gets no rent and the road has another empty space."

But as a venue for eating out and socialising, the popularity of the Lisburn Road continues – though Mr Langsford of Calla House Ltd said The Albany will offer something new.

"Following our investment in El Divino and Filthy McNasty's, this initiative is new and a very different concept which will create an initial 50 skilled jobs requiring a number of staff to engage in specific training in London to hone their skills," he said.

Belfast Telegraph