Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter is set to welcome a vibrant addition to its cultural and culinary scene this week, as the Beannchor Group opens its newest venture.

Set on Hill Street, in a four-storey listed building dating back to the 18th century, the exciting new entertainment complex comprises a bar and live music venue called The Dirty Onion and an upstairs free-range rotisserie chicken restaurant, Yard Bird.

A thoughtful restoration of the building, to the tune of £1.25million, has transformed one of the city’s hidden architectural gems, giving it a new lease of life and creating 40 new jobs.

Dating back to 1780, the building was used as a bonded spirit warehouse from 1921. It was known locally as ‘STACK N’ – a reference to its position on the north side of Waring Street and bears a giant red painted ‘N’ on its brick façade. The distinctive external wooden structure is another original feature, which, following careful restoration will frame the venue’s beer garden to the front of the complex, with a new contemporary courtyard stretching out to Hill Street.

Inside, low ceilings supported by exposed wooden beams and original brick walls throughout nod to the past.  A sensitive partnership with Jameson Irish Whiskey will showcase the heritage of the building further – paying homage to the tens of thousands of Jameson barrels and crates that passed through the building, which was operated by Edward Dillon Bonders [now a subsidiary of Irish Distillers/Dillon Bass] until 1991.

A modern take on a traditional Irish pub, The Dirty Onion’s novel partnership with multi-award winning cultural centre, An Droichead will deliver a varied music programme each week.

Through open workshops in singing and various traditional instruments, and sessions with the highest quality traditional musicians, An Droichead will cultivate a weekly music focused programme that will welcome spectators, as well as those that want to take part.  From bodhrán lessons to live Bluegrass and the weekly meeting of Belfast Harpist’s Club, the venue will see established musicians sit alongside amateurs to reignite an inclusive culture of traditional music in Belfast city centre.

Whilst music feeds the soul, upstairs diners can get a taste of Northern Ireland, with local free-range rotisserie chicken on the menu in the complex’s standalone restaurant, Yard Bird. Hearty traditional lunches will also be served in The Dirty Onion.

Commenting on the launch, Bill Wolsey, managing director of Beannchor said:

“The opening of The Dirty Onion and Yard Bird this week follows years of work behind the scenes to breathe new life into one of Belfast’s most beautiful buildings. The old bonded warehouse that houses the two venues is one of only three wood-ridge buildings in Ireland; it has been unoccupied for quite some time now, so it is very exciting to watch its reincarnation take shape.

“We want to offer an alternative to the modern music venues in Belfast city centre; somewhere that people come not only to be entertained but to get involved and be part of creating the atmosphere.

“Our partnerships with Jameson Irish Whiskey and An Droichead will bring something new and exciting to the Northern Ireland social and cultural scene, set within a piece of living Belfast history.”