Husband and wife duo acquire award-winning Co Down steakhouse

Ulster Bank
Caorlan and Ciara McAllister pictured with Ulster Bank business development manager Lee White at the newly-acquired Halfway House in Banbridge (Aarom McCracken)

An award-winning steakhouse outside Banbridge has new owners.

Entrepreneurs Caorlan and Ciara McAllister have acquired the century-old Halfway House pub and restaurant, having acquired the licence and trading premises as part of a six-figure investment supported by Ulster Bank.

Caorlan, a former hospitality manager, took over the lease of the popular eaterie in September 2020 with his then-business partner Gavin Bates.

But he has now completed a management buyout of the business with wife Ciara, and says the purchase of the licence and premises creates a solid foundation for growth.

“We took a gamble on the business after its initial closure in March 2020. It was a challenging time for hospitality, but the response from the community when we reopened was overwhelmingly positive,” he said.

“That response and regular custom sustained us. We’re proud of how far we’ve come and are hopeful for the road ahead, especially with my wife Ciara supporting me at the helm of the business as we continue to grow.

“We’re stronger than ever before, and with Ulster Bank’s support we’re equipped and ready to start writing the next chapter for the Halfway House.”

Ulster Bank business development manager Lee White said: “The transformation of the Halfway House over the past four years is testament to the resilience of Caorlan and his team as they navigated the immensely challenging market conditions facing the hospitality sector.

“We’re pleased to provide the funding to support the acquisition of the licence and premises, which offers the business greater security and opens up new opportunities for growth and development.”

The economic climate over the past few years means focus is on making the business as sustainable as possible, Caorlan said.

“The cost of doing business is high, so we’re exploring cost-saving measures, including solar energy and improved heating systems, to help combat rising energy costs.”

Creating new revenue streams is high up the agenda too, he adds.

“We’re also looking at new ways to really drive our tourism offering in the warm season as well as further investment in our function rooms to accommodate private hires.”

From lockdowns to rising costs, The Halfway House ( has continually adapted to the market.

“Over the last six months we’ve frozen our menu prices, even with additional cost pressures on the business,” Caorlan remarked.

“It’s part of us giving back to the community. We’re committed to providing an affordable entry point for diners and are seeing many happy customers returning.”