100 jobs under threat as iconic Duke of York bar set to stay shut

The Duke of York won't open for the foreseeable future and 100 jobs are under risk at it and the Harp Bar, according to its owners Commercial Court Inns. Picture: Hugh Russell
Gary McDonald Business Editor

ONE of Belfast's best-known pubs The Duke of York is set to stay shut possibly until Easter amid fears that 100 jobs could go within the group which owns it.

Commercial Court Inns, which also owns the Harp Bar in Cathedral Quarter along with the Dark Horse and the Friend at Hand whiskey emporium, has entered into a consultation period with employees.

A spokesman for the group said: "It is with a heavy heart that we confirm that The Duke of York and Harp Bar will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

"Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to find an economically viable way to reopen these iconic venues, which were built for convivial conversation, craic and live music in close quarters.

"The time will come when these doors will reopen and the lights will be turned back on.

"The craic and conversation will return and the reunion will be all the sweeter for the wait."

Like hundreds of other hospitality venues, Commercial Court Inns' venues have suffered badly due to the Covid restrictions.

Although most businesses benefitted from a rates break during the lockdown, the group had been hit particularly hard under the last revaluation, with The Duke of York hit with 115 per cent hike and The Harp Bar seeing a 166 per cent (£225,000) rise in net annual value (NAV).

Reacting to the news of the potential jobs at the Duke of York and Harp Bar, Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill said: “Sadly, this situation is indicative of the current trading environment and the real impact that Covid19 is having on the hospitality sector.

“The toll that this has taken on iconic bars such as these speaks volumes for how deep trading restrictions are hurting.

“We are devastated for those employees who have been given this news and know that this will not have been an easy decision to make.”


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