Belfast Telegraph

James Street South owner Niall McKenna opening 'Cast and Crew' restaurant in Titanic Quarter

By John Mulgrew

One of Northern Ireland's best-known restaurateurs is opening the first standalone eatery at an historic site in Belfast's Titanic Quarter.

Niall McKenna - the man behind James Street South - is planning to launch his new venture, Cast & Crew, at the former First Trust banking building on Queens Road.

And while it once handled the pay packets of Belfast's dock workers, it will now play host to the culinary talents of one of Northern Ireland's top cooks.

The acclaimed chef is keeping it simple this time, bringing breakfast and a range of firm favourites to his new business - which he's hoping to launch by the end of next month.

The modestly-sized 45-seater restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and early dinner until 6pm - with plans to open seven days a week.

It will create 25 full and part-time jobs - and is to be followed with the opening of a second, as yet unnamed venue on Donegall Quay which will employ 30 new staff.

"It's something we have never done before with the company - as our staff say, I don't do simple," Mr McKenna told the Belfast Telegraph.

Cast & Crew is hoping to be the latest in a long-line of successful eateries in the city by the former Great British Menu-winning chef.

"It will be simple, with breakfast in the morning and food in the afternoon," he said.

"It will be a couple of dishes from Hadskis and the Bar and Grill - very simple food, but at the same time, it has to be cost-effective."

"Bus tours and the rest, they want to come in, and leave. There will also be a takeaway, with a full menu of salads, burgers, granola, hot dogs - the whole nine yards."

The new spot on Queens Road will also have an outside dining area and charcoal pit.

And it would be the first standalone restaurant to open its doors in the Titanic Quarter -which is set to grow and expand with a series of new hotels due to open nearby in the next few years.

If applications for planning and a restaurant drinks licence get the go-ahead, the new food stop could be opening its doors in just a few weeks' time.

Niall McKenna has operated his James Street South restaurant in the heart of the city for 12 years.

And along with his wife Joanne, the pair have also grown their popular Belfast restaurants to include the Bar and Grill, attached to the couple's original James Street South restaurant.

And in 2013, they also opened the hip Hadskis in the cobbled stone-clad confines of Commercial Court in the Cathedral Quarter.

Mr McKenna - a chef since he was 16 - also offers private dining at the flagship restaurant, and runs the ever-popular Cookery School.


Niall McKenna set up James Street South in Belfast city centre in 2003. He also expanded his business to include the Bar and Grill, as well as a cookery school at the same James Street South site. Mr McKenna opened Hadskis in 2013. He also appeared on the BBC popular show Great British Menu on two occasions, winning the dessert course in 2012 for his poached rhubarb with strawberry jelly, yellow man and lavender ice-cream.

Belfast Telegraph