breaking news

That start of something new

September 22nd, 2017 | by LCN Editor
That start of something new
Venue Spotlight

Belfast’s newest pub and nightclub development is the latest addition to the entertainment portfolio of 1 Oak Leisure Ireland Ltd – and the first time that it has opened a venue in the heart of Belfast. LCN has been talking to group marketing manager, Laura McGillion…

1 Oak Leisure Ireland Ltd., the entertainment group behind a number of leading venues in the mid-Ulster and Strabane regions, has invested around £1.5m overall to open its first venue in Belfast.

The Playwright bar and TIME nightclub opened their doors for the first time earlier this month in premises on Lower Crescent formerly occupied by The Fly.

Employing around 60 people, the new venues take their place in 1 Oak Leisure’s burgeoning portfolio of clubs and bars. It already owns and operates TIME BAR + VENUE and Lanyon Hall in Cookstown; Johnny Foxes in Magherafelt and Ruby’s Nightclub and the Harp and Fiddle Bar in Strabane.

The Playwright and TIME nightclub are spread across three stories. The themed bar on the ground floor, which is aimed at a 25+ clientele, has room for about 200 people at capacity and upstairs, TIME offers a high-tech club experience with a comfortable and intimate bar area at the top of the building.

1 Oak Leisure Ireland Ltd. is owned by Cookstown developer, Patrick Scullion and speaking to LCN this month, group marketing manager, Laura McGillion revealed that with the new venues in Belfast, Patrick was keen to replicate the success he had already enjoyed elsewhere:

“Also, with all the investment that is going on in Belfast at the moment, Patrick was keen to get involved, then The Fly came up,” adds Laura. “It’s a great location and it’s one of those venues that would be known by most people in Belfast. The timing was perfect.”

Laura also revealed, however, that although The Fly was still trading when they bought the premises in June this year, it was in “pretty bad shape”, particularly the bar:

“We stripped everything back to the bare brick and re-did it,” she said. “Everything that we did in the bar was designed to create a very premium, traditional style. We wanted it to be laid back and comfortable, but we wanted it to look classy too.”

To that end, reds and golds are heavily employed in the bar’s décor; there is an open fire which will be lit every day in the winter and in line with the name of the venue, the walls are lined with images of poets and playwrights.

“We were really just trying to create something a wee bit different with the pictures. We know there are a lot of nice bars in Belfast and we wanted to put our own mark on this one,” added Laura. “We wanted a different spin on things. We were also conscious of the tourist market in Belfast and we want to add a little heritage and character to the venue.”

TIME nightclub on the upper floors takes a similarly low-key approach. The main feature of the club is an eye-catching LCD screen in front of which live dancers and the DJ box are located. Open Monday, Friday and Saturday nights, TIME can hold about 250 clubbers at capacity.

“Saturday [September 16] was the first night that we were open and we felt that it went really well,” said Laura “It was great to be able to bring some life back into this iconic location and we actually have some of the staff with us that worked here previously and it was a great lift from them to see the venue full of people again.

“I think people are very aware of the history of the spot, they knew The Fly, it was here for years and in its heyday, it was very popular. Our plan is to reinvent that success with our own brand, TIME. This was a strong business in the past and we are aiming to see that success restored.”

Laura, who has been with 1 Oak Leisure Ireland Ltd. since 2012, says that the company is very happy with performance at present. No figures are revealed, but she says that the group is currently in growth:

“In January, we hope to start work on phase two of the Belfast project. We have a small beer garden at the minute which accommodates about 100 people and we intend to double its size,” added Laura. “We are also looking to move the toilets, which are currently in the basement level, up into the bar itself. We’re really looking forward to getting this next phase underway.

“In the club, we are going to be focused very much on levels of service throughout the building,” continued Laura “This has always been an important aspect of our operations in Cookstown and we want to make sure that this is also the case in the Belfast venue.

“This is our first time in Belfast, so it’s very important to us that this is a success, particularly because we are using the TIME brand, which has built up a very good image in Cookstown and we want that to continue.”

Now that the group has made a successful Belfast debut, Laura is confident that the future holds promise of further development:

“I think it’s very important that we make a success of the venues that we currently have,” she told LCN. “But I don’t think that Patrick is likely to stop there. There is considerable investment happening in Belfast at the moment and I think he will want to be involved in that, which could be the beginning of a completely new story…”




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