Back in the neighborhood - coffee shop duo to reopen in Cathedral Quarter

Neighbourhood Café proprietors Ryan Crown and Oisin McEvoy outside their new Cathedral Quarters premises in Commercial Court. Picture by Hugh Russell.

THE owners of a popular Belfast café destroyed in a fire last month are preparing to relaunch their business in one of the city’s best known streets.

Neighbourhood Café will open in the former Hadskis premises in Commercial Court in the first week of December, after well-known chef Niall McKenna offered his old restaurant to Ryan Crown and Oisin McEvoy.

The pair, who launched their Donegall Street hospitality venture in November 2021 were among the businesses left devastated by the inferno in Cathedral Buildings on October 3.

The blaze occurred as businesses in the area were beginning to see the benefits from the influx of thousands of students in the new Ulster University campus.

“It couldn’t have happened at a worse time,” said Ryan Crown.

Neighbourhood Café's premises on 60 Donegall Street.

Their minds immediately turned to retaining their team, their customers and getting back in business.

Inundated with calls and messages of support, one of those voicemails turned out to be from Niall and Joanne McKenna, both friends and customers.

“They were very forthcoming about the opportunity with Hadskis. It was sitting dormant and they wanted to see us back up and opening,” added Ryan.

“They offered us Hadskis and we jumped at the opportunity.”

Niall McKenna said he didn’t hesitate to reach out to the pair when the fire hit.

“Their backs were against the wall, they were gutted. They believe in the area and they’re really good at what they do.

Workmen survey the damage at Cathedral Buildings in Donegall Street. Picture by Mal McCann.

“The whole area came together and people have offered space.”

And while he has longer term plans for the former Hadskis site, he believes Neighbourhood Café will be a perfect fit in the interim.

“They’re really good guys. We’re going to have two really good coffee shops in the area, so we’ll be spoilt.”

No stranger to the area, Oisin McEvoy is a former barista turned manager of well-loved Cathedral Quarter coffee shop Established, while Ryan Crown launched the Hill Street Hatch and the Toast Office food ventures after relocating his design business to Belfast from New York in 2020.

“We are looking at this as our home for now,” said Oisin. “We don’t know how long that is going to be, but we’re going to try and make it as homely and welcoming as we can.

“We’ll be very much sticking to what people know Neighbourhood to be rather than offering anything too different.”

Ryan said they have been moved by the help offered in the wake of the fire.

“We can’t over the amount of support and goodwill shown to us over the last month from other business owners and operators around the Cathedral Quarter and across Belfast.

“We can’t wait to get the doors open and do what we do best.

“The Cathedral Quarter is the part of Belfast we want to be in, so the fact we’ve found a location here is all the better.

“We’re incredibly positive. We’re itching to get opened and we’re very excited by the opportunity that the new location presents.”