Restaurant Profile October 2016: Bubbacue, Callender Street, Belfast
John Blisard, creator and founder of Bubbacue, talks to HRNI
WHEN DID YOUR RESTAURANT OPEN?
The restaurant was originally opened as a ‘pop up’ in November 2012. We saw a gap in the restaurant industry here to provide an authentic barbecue experience.
TELL US ABOUT THE SPACE YOU HAVE
It’s about 1,400 square feet, all ground floor. The unit has been numerous restaurants over the years and, as such, was in need of a total makeover. So we gutted the place and opened it up internally, creating an open kitchen when we relaunched in December 2015.
WHAT FEEL ARE YOU AIMING FOR?
We’re a fast casual BBQ restaurant, so we are sort of urban BBQ. We’ve got some lovely wood elements in the space to create some warmth while also keeping an urban, modern feel about the place.
WHAT’S ON YOUR MENU AND WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND IT?
Our menu is primarily BBQ, with smoked meats and traditional American sides such as baked beans, macaroni & cheese, potato salad, hand cut fries, etc. But we also now offer healthier alternatives such as a black bean, corn & coriander salad and giant couscous & apricot salad and a vegetarian option of breaded haloumi.
Any of the meats can be on a roll, over a salad or served on top of mashed potato or Cajun rice. This provides those seeking it with a gluten-free alternative option and seems to be going down quite well.
DOES YOUR MENU CHANGE OFTEN?
No, we don’t change it much. The occasional addition or removal of an item here or there but it is rare. Our main change recently is the addition of the healthy alternatives and variety of ways to order a meal.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO TO IMPROVE AND DRIVE YOUR MENU?
We are always looking at ways of improving our products whether it be through sourcing better quality ingredients or improving the methods we use to prepare them. I probably drive our chefs crazy as I continually strive for improvement.
WHO ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS?
Our customers are consumers looking for good quality food on the go. The restaurant operates a very quick serving style which allows workers, shoppers or diners with limited time to come in and get good BBQ in a fraction of the time of a traditional restaurant.
HAVE YOU FACED ANY PARTICULAR CHALLENGES TO DATE?
Closing and rebranding is always a challenge as you run the risk of upsetting your loyal fans. We did have the odd ones that were not fond of the changes. However, with our expanded menu, we feel we now appeal to a larger segment of the market. We have also listened to our customers and made some other small changes, including bringing back our sauces to tables.
WHAT IS YOUR FOOD SOURCING POLICY?
We use only Irish meats and try to use local produce where possible. We currently work with Henderson Foodservice, Universal Produce, GB Poultry and French Village, as well as our very own beer, Bubbabrew, which is exclusively brewed by Boundary
HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR RESTAURANT STAND OUT FROM COMPETITORS?
Quality and freshness. We offer restaurant quality food at fast food prices. We make everything from scratch every day from wholesome ingredients. We have no frozen products, no microwaves, we don’t even own a freezer. We also own the only original smoker in Ireland, so we’re proud that our taste cannot be recreated anywhere else in the country.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR RESTAURANT DEVELOPING THIS YEAR?
We’re in negotiations to open a second unit. All going well, it should be before Christmas.
12 Callender Street, Belfast
Tel: 028 9027 8220
Email: [email protected]
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