Three businessmen from Ardboe have launched a tasty new development at the Belfast landmark they already run - the Crumlin Road Gaol.
Directors Kieran Quinn, Kevin Quinn and Phelim Devlin welcomed guests to the official opening of Cuffs Bar and Grill, a new licensed restaurant at the leading tourist attraction.
The new restaurant, which has created 30 jobs, opened last month following a £350,000 investment from Belfast Tourist Attraction and Conference Centre.
Guests included Lord Mayor of Belfast Brian Kingston, broadcaster Adrian Logan and North Belfast MLAs Gerry Kelly and Nelson McCausland.
The official opening ceremony was carried out by Carol Ramsey, director of Strategic Planning Division at Department for Infrastructure.
Kieran Quinn said: “Crumlin Road Gaol is the ideal location for Cuffs Bar and Grill, which we hope will become a friendly face for locals and visitors alike.
“The building itself is a local landmark and one of the most popular attractions for tourists visiting Belfast.
“We look forward to welcoming guests in for a taste of Cuffs Bar and Grill as we are sure the restaurant and the locally inspired and sourced menus will become well-known with the local area.
“The focus of Cuffs Bar and Grill will be on fantastic food, with first class service in an incredibly unique setting.
“We are confident it will be a hit with locals in Belfast as well as those further afield and of course for the expanding number of tourists to the area.”
It is also hoped that it can “boost Northern Ireland’s food and drink reputation by putting it at the heart of the tourism experience”.
Head chef Damien Blaney has worked in renowned restaurants in Switzerland, the West Indies and more recently, Deane’s in Belfast.
He said: “We want to put a spin on Northern Ireland with all our menus. All our ingredients are fresh and sourced locally; we have so much on our doorstep.
“We have a good relationship with small independent suppliers such as Ewings, Belfast’s oldest fishmongers and chicken producers, Rockvale. We make the best of the seasons and have worked hard to create a menu which includes something for everyone.”
The opening of Cuffs Bar and Grill takes place during Tourism NI’s Year of Food and Drink 2016, which is celebrating the “quality and creativity” of the province’s food and drink industry.
Cuffs Bar and Grill is open daily from 12pm until 10pm. Special events menus and packages for the regular Live At The Crum concert nights will also be available.
To make a reservation, call 02890 755822 or email email@example.com
Crumlin Road Gaol dates back to 1845, but ceased to be a working prison in 1996.
After extensive renovations, the gaol re-opened as a visitor attraction and conference centre. Tours take visitors to the underground tunnel that used to connect the gaol to Crumlin Road Courthouse.
Visitors can sit in the governor’s chair, view all the wings from the circle and see the condemned man’s cell. There is also an opportunity to tour the execution cell.
The design was based on Pentonville Prison in London which was regarded as a blueprint for similar structures in the Victorian era.
The first prisoners arrived in 1846, and were marched in in chains from the county gaol in Carrickfergus.
The total number of prisoners was 106. Of these, six were awaiting deportation, 17 were serving sentences and the remainder were awaiting trial.
The first execution took place in 1854 of Robert Henry O’Neill, who was a soldier. Executions were carried out in public view until 1901.
The last execution in 1961 was of Robert McGladdery for the murder of Newry woman Pearl Gamble.
High profile former prisoners include Peter Robinson, Martin McGuinness and IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, loyalist Michael Stone and former DUP leader Ian Paisley.
The building stood derelict until restoration work enabled it to be re-opened as a tourist attraction in 2012.