Belfast Kwik-Fit premises could become two cafes
It's shaping up to be a battle of the tyre fitters versus the baristas — a Kwik-Fit garage in south Belfast faces being turned into a cafe against the will of its overall-clad occupants.
Galgorm Properties owns the large property on Lisburn Road, which has been home to a Kwik-Fit tyre depot and garage for 25 years. The garage employs five people.
Now the Ballymena-based landlord wants to turn the premises into two cafes in a section of the district already packed with coffee shops including Tony and Jen’s next door, Miel et Moi, Arizona and Espresso Elements.
But a spokesman for Kwik-Fit said it hoped to continue its tenure at the spot.
“The Kwik-Fit centre in Lisburn Road has been serving the local community since November 1992 and we would like to remain in that location,” he said.
“Our team is committed to supporting motorists in the area and we have advised the landlord that we would like a new lease. We are currently awaiting the outcome of those discussions.”
Galgorm Properties’ request to change the use of the tyre depot and garage to a two-cafe/restaurant offering with outdoor space was received by the planning department at Belfast City Council earlier this year.
Galgorm Properties is based at Galgorm Castle Estate.
But Belfast Telegraph restaurant critic Joris Minne said Belfast now faced the risk of having too many coffee shops.
Mr Minne said: “The trend for coffee shows few signs of petering out. I would have thought the planning authorities would see the situation becoming a problem before it happens. For planning permission to be granted for this site would be a potential death warrant for those existing independent cafes who are within yards and who have carved out a market for themselves, created some jobs, and breathed new life into the area.”
Meanwhile, long-standing home-grown coffee chain Clements said it had struggled to agree terms to a new letting on the Lisburn Road after moving out from its old pitch this summer after 14 years.
A spokeswoman said: “We moved out of our old site on Lisburn Road as it’s a three-storey building that just wasn’t fit for purpose any more.
“We were all set to move into a new one at the former Sole Seafood restaurant elsewhere on the road but that all fell through.
“But we are still looking and want to assure our long-term customers we will be back,” the spokeswoman added.