Belfast Telegraph

For sale Belfast bar Cafe Vaudeville could see Cuban revolution

Top Belfast city centre venue set for sale to leading English bars group in £2.5m deal

By Margaret Canning

Top Belfast bar Cafe Vaudeville will be transformed into a Cuban-style venue under new ownership if negotiations for its sale are successful, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

The Arthur Street nightspot was put on the market for £3.5m earlier this year.

It's understood owner Pat McCormack is negotiating an agreement with the Revolution Bars Group in England to sell the glamorous venue to it. It's expected a deal will be agreed for around £2.5m.

A spokesman for Revolution Bars Group said it had no comment to make on Cafe Vaudeville, but added it was interested in expanding to the province.

"Revolution are keen to open and get into the Northern Irish market," he said.

No one at Cafe Vaudeville, which opened in 2004, was available to comment.

But Colin Neill, head of trade body Hospitality Ulster, said the prospective deal was a vote of confidence.

"It's very positive and significant that people are willing to invest in the pub industry here," he said.

Mark Carron of commercial property agents Osborne King - which was instructed to sell the property, along with Michael Hopkins of McKibbins - said it had no comment to make.

An advertisement for a general manager of a Revolucion de Cuba in Northern Ireland - a role paying between £40,000 and £50,000 - was recently placed on industry website

It's understood Revolution Bars Group plans to turn Cafe Vaudeville into a Revolucion de Cuba - a nightspot specialising in Cuban-themed cocktails and food.

Speaking in June, when the bar hit the market, Mr Carron said it was a "unique licensed city centre opportunity".

"We'd expect pub operators from Northern Ireland, the Republic and Great Britain to show interest in it... this really is a big-ticket city centre pub."

Revolution Bars Group has been operating since 1996, and launched the Revolucion de Cuba brand in 2011.

There are now 54 Revolution bars and six Revolucion de Cuba venues in Britain.

According to its website, Revolucion bars feature "1940s Cuban-inspired style, with dark woods, traditional bar counters, antique tiles, vintage furniture, Havana-style ceiling fans and original Cuban artwork and photographs".

Revolution Bars Group will be the first major English company since JD Wetherspoon to enter the Northern Ireland pub market.

But earlier this month it announced the sale of five of its nine pubs here to the Granny Annie's Group, based in Limavady.

Founder Tim Martin said it's committed to its four remaining bars - and was still intent on opening two new venues in Belfast.

Belfast Telegraph