Wetherspoon Rules Out Opening New Venue In Belfast In Near Future
Pub group JD Wetherspoon has ruled out opening a new venue in Belfast in the near future.
Wetherspoon recently announced that it will invest £145 million in developing new pubs and upgrading existing pubs, including in Dublin, however, according to The Irish News, the pub group has said that a premises that it recently acquired on Belfast's Arthur Street will not be among the properties that it is developing and upgrading.
The Arthur Street property formerly housed Café Vaudeville, and was acquired by Wetherspoon in 2019. It is currently let to Revolution Bars Group and operates as Revolución de Cuba.
According to The Irish News, a Wetherspoon spokesperson has confirmed that Revolution Bars Group holds a long lease on the property, which means that Wetherspoon is not in a position to take the property over in the short or medium term.
Problems Acquiring Alcohol Licenses
Wetherspoon also owns a former JJB Sports store on Belfast's Royal Avenue and a former Methodist church on the city's University Road, however, according to The Irish News, to date, the pub group has been unable to acquire a license to serve alcohol at those two properties. The group reportedly withdrew its drinks license application for the University Road property around the time that it acquired the Arthur Street property.
Speaking to The Irish News, Wetherspoon spokesperson Eddie Gershon said, "The licensing system in Northern Ireland reduces the level of investment from companies wishing to open pubs there.
"It is easier to get permission to build a pub in London, Dublin and Edinburgh.
"We would have opened new pubs in Belfast many years ago if it wasn’t for licensing issues."
Proposals To Modernise Northern Ireland's Licensing System
It was announced in July of last year that the Executive had backed proposals to modernise some aspects of Northern Ireland's licensing system, including rules for drinking hours, Easter drinking and serving alcohol at events, which could be altered by Easter of next year. However, according to The Irish News, the current proposals look unlikely to help Wetherspoon acquire new drinks licenses in Northern Ireland.
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