Belfast Barbecue restaurant chain has eyes on Republic as it gets set to expand
A Belfast barbecue-style restaurant chain has announced it will expand its operations into the Republic following the success of its second unit, in Botanic Avenue.
Bubbacue, which opened its first restaurant in the city's Callender Street in 2012, also said it would look at opening a third Northern Ireland venue, on the north coast .
The expansion plans follow the chain's announcement of a 40% increase in turnover since opening its second branch just four months ago.
Bubbacue, led by founder and managing director John Blisard, received a £400,000 Growth Loan Fund loan to support the expansion earlier this year.
He said: "Our second restaurant has only been open since the end of June but it has traded extremely well. The student market is very lucrative and the last month in particular has been hugely successful.
"There is certainly nobody else here or in England doing what we do, and in America there are only a few franchises similar to us.
"The market is heading in one direction and that is towards fast-casual dining. It is something that has been in America for the past 10-15 years and Northern Ireland is only now grasping the concept.
"We're going to be opening the first Bubbacue in Dublin within the next nine months and we have plans to open a third store in Northern Ireland.
"We have customers who travel from Coleraine and Ballymena so opening a third store around the north coast is the next logical move. It'll be a new concept to the area and we're excited about our future expansion plans."
Mr Blisard moved here from Philadelphia with his Co Down-born wife Karen in 2007 and previously owned burrito chain, Boojum. His first Boojum outlet in Botanic Avenue started operating in 2007. The business was sold to brothers David and Andrew Maxwell in July 2015.
Neil McCabe, senior investment manager at WhiteRock Capital Partners, which manages the Growth Loan Fund said: "There are ambitious business plans ahead for Bubbacue with the owners hoping to gain a major foothold in the Irish market.
"We were delighted to have been able to help support the launch of their second restaurant and were very impressed with the food and service that they provided for over one hundred guests at our recent corporate event. We look forward to following the company's future growth."
The Growth Loan Fund is a £50m pot that provides loans to established Northern Ireland SMEs seeking to access growth finance. It has been provided by Invest NI and private investors, Northern Ireland Local Government Officers' Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC).