New entrepreneurs' group in the Clover after revealing Basement revamp

IN THE CLOVER: Mark Beirne, Paul Langsford, Andrew Maxwell and Jim Conlon, who have formed the Clover Group to develop the new Margot Bar
Gary McDonald Business Editor

FOUR of Belfast's best-known hospitality and leisure entrepreneurs have formed a new consortium and have undertaken their first major project to regenerate the former Basement Bar in the city centre.

The currently vacant hostelry will morph into the Margot Bar in a move which will create 25 jobs and add to the city's hospitality offer when it opens in the middle of next month.

The quartet behind the new Clover Group are Mark Beirne and Paul Langsford, who have been behind the regeneration of many popular Belfast bars, along with Jim Conlon and Andrew Maxwell, former US bar chain owner and board member of Boojum.

Clover says it is targeting a "broad range of investments" and breathe new life into existing bars, with a number of announcements expected in the coming months.

The first project the group has undertaken is the development of Margot, an underground venue on the site of the former Basement Bar in Donegal Square East.

Previously owned by Beechill Inns Group, whose other properties once included McCracken's Cafe Bar and Queen's Cafe Bar both in Belfast city centre, the Basement has been closed for nearly two years.

Margot (designed by Belfast branding studio Sort) will serve up small plates, flat breads and drinks, and the venue says it will have a "laid back and funky vibe".

The four behind Clover bring different skills to the project, including developing bars from concept through to top nightlife venues, the restoration and enhancement of historically importance venues, and delivering unique and innovative food and corporate governance expertise.

Having been together since the formation of the original Milk Bar in Tomb Street two decades ago, Beirne and Langsford have consistently targeted vacant and neglected properties to establish some of Belfast's most popular venues including Filthy McNasty's, Rita's and Pug Ugly's.

Beirne's alliance with Conlon, who has a range of businesses including Fitzpatrick's bar and restaurant and GymCo, is a natural progression, with both partnering in the successful redevelopment of Henry's and the Jailhouse.

Maxwell's corporate knowledge and expertise with trade experience in the US and his track record in private equity with Boojum is seen as representing a significant addition to Clover.

Jim Conlon said: “The coming together of this level of industry expertise under one roof is hugely exciting for us and the hospitality industry, and represents an important development within the wider business environment.

“Margot has been strategically targeted in the heart of Belfast, where the wider area has seen a rejuvenation in night time trade in recent years. It will add an exciting new mix to the growing nightlife and café culture in that part of the city.”

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