£300,000 investment sees two become one for hospitality trailblazer McKenna

Gary McDonald Business Editor

HOSPITALITY trailblazer Niall McKenna has opened his new ‘bistronomy' Belfast restaurant after a £300,000 refurbishment to unify his two existing eateries on the same premium city centre site.

The James Street Bar + Grill and James Street South restaurant closed in early July to allow work to transform the venue into, simply, James Street.

The restaurant, which won rave reviews under its previous guise, will accommodate a burgeoning demand from local and global visitors for a more bistro-style, all-day dining experience.

The new venture will support up to 35 full and part-time jobs, which are additional to the 15 jobs created during design, building and fit-out.

Niall McKenna opened his first landmark James Street South restaurant in 2003, leading a local revolution in classic cooking using seasonal, local produce.

The neighbouring Bib Gourmand award-winning Bar + Grill opened in 2011, and the new James St will strengthen the already thriving hub of Belfast's Linen Quarter.

Amalgamating the entire floor space of both restaurants, the brand-new restaurant provides seating for up to 90 customers in a new relaxed and contemporary setting which will include a bar area and an enlarged kitchen space.

Niall said: “After setting the restaurant quality and service standard for Belfast more than 15 years ago with James Street South, I'm thrilled to be introducing a new hospitality experience to a new generation of discerning diners in an exciting, contemporary setting they will instantly enjoy.

“After years of awards and national and international recognition for our hard work and commitment, and most importantly our patronage, the time is right to combine our best strengths into one iconic flagship venue and at our most established location."

The new restaurant - where the menu will champion creativity and local artisan produce - strengthens the already thriving hub of Belfast's Linen Quarter, which has welcomed many of Belfast's newest hotels including Hastings' new Grand Central, The Flint, the Maldron and the city's first EasyHotel.

In June, Niall announced plans to open a new cookery school in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter at the Waterman House listed building at 5-23 Hill Street.

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