Barking Dog owners launch new Belfast restaurant

Owners of 'The Barking Dog' on Malone Road, chef Michael O'Connor and manager Michael Fletcher have opened a new restaurant called 'Dog Track' at the newly refurbished Weaving Works. Pictured are Michael O'Connor; Mark McKeown, business centre manager, First Trust Bank and Michael Fletcher.

THE OWNERS of the popular Barking Dog restaurant in Belfast have opened a second eatery in the heart of the city, creating 20 new jobs.

Chef Michael O'Connor and manager Michael Fletcher have launched 'Dog Track' at the newly refurbished Weaving Works - a former linen warehouse on Ormeau Avenue.

The new venture follows an investment of over £500,000, with the 80 seater restaurant set to create up to 20 jobs for the local economy. In what could be described as an innovative concept the new restaurant will have a serving track, which surrounds a central island kitchen, similar to that of Japanese eateries Yo Sushi and Sakura in the city. That's where the similarities end though as the Dog Track will have a focus on western cuisine in a tapas style, with the owners hoping to replicate the success of its sister restaurant on Malone Avenue.

Speaking to the Irish News Mr O'Connor, who has previously been involved in Belfast restaurants Coppi and Il Pirata, said the concept for the new venture has been 14 years in the making, and described the plans finally coming to fruition as a "dream come true".

"It's going to be very cool and retro in Belfast and Northern Ireland as a whole. It's something that's not really been seen before in a western style."

At the new eatery five chefs will cook in the central island kitchen preparing hot food as well as cold starters and desserts, which will move around on the 360 degree track in front of customers.

"We hope that these features will offer a more interactive dining experience, with customers encouraged to speak to the chef or ask questions about the food on offer, " Mr Fletcher said.

Looking ahead and if the new concept is a success, the pair would like to roll out at least two other restaurants over the next five years and explore the possibility of a separate outlet in west Belfast.

"Our next five year plan will be to try and get two maybe smaller versions of it (Dog Track) in maybe an airport, maybe Derry city centre I don't know, maybe Dublin also," Mr O'Connor added.

Following the opening of ‘Dog Track', the restaurant group is also planning to launch an app in the new year which offers the facility for restaurant quality take-away lunches. These will be provided in completely reusable or compostable vessels including Indian style tiffin tins. It is hoped that together this will allow the group to take an even bigger bite out of the growing lunchtime trade in Belfast.

The latest business venture has been supported by First Trust Bank and business centre manager Mark McKeown commended the pair on their ambition.

“Having worked closely with the two Michael's over several years and helping as they've driven the Barking Dog restaurant forward we are very aware of the pedigree and passion they both bring to their business. This is a significant investment in a landmark Belfast building and is another vote of confidence in the growing strength of the wider hospitality and visitor sector here in Northern Ireland," he said.

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