Restaurant Profile September 2018: Rain Check, Titanic Quarter Belfast
Graham Johnston, co-owner of Rain Check with Andrew Davis, talks to HRNI
WHEN DID YOUR RESTAURANT OPEN?
Andy and I had been operating our neighbouring convenience store business, SPAR in the ARC Retail, for over four years serving a mix of customers; from people who work, study and live in Titanic Quarter to tourists, concert and event goers. In January 2018, we embraced the opportunity to diversify our offering even further with the opening of our restaurant, Rain Check. We recognised that there was a growing demand for somewhere for people to sit and eat in the heart of Titanic Quarter.
TELL US ABOUT THE SPACE YOU HAVE
We have a 42-seat licensed restaurant which has magnificent views over the Abercorn Basin, the vibrant Waterfront Walkway and Cave Hill.
WHAT FEEL ARE YOU AIMING FOR?
Rain Check is warm and relaxed. We provide a delicious and varied menu in a fantastic location.
WHAT’S ON YOUR MENU?
We have a real mix of local and international bistro dishes. We offer a wide range of gluten free and vegan options catering for all dietary requirements. Our most popular meal is fish and chips, but we also serve burgers, pizza and pasta, light bites and sandwiches. Our breakfasts and Ulster Fries have been growing in popularity as well and we have extended the early menu to run until 2pm every day.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO TO IMPROVE AND DRIVE YOUR MENU?
We listen to what our regular customers say. In the first few months they told us that they felt our menu was too limited and we have expanded quite significantly on that now. We added pastas, lasagnes and steaks, as well as a range of other alternatives.
WHAT IS YOUR FOOD SOURCING POLICY?
We work with reputable and sustainable local suppliers including Carnbrooke Meats and Henderson Foodservice. We know that we can trace where our food comes from.
WHO ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS?
ARC Retail is prominently located below the ARC apartments which are home to over 1,000 residents, and adjacent to the SSE Arena, Belfast, Citigroup, Belfast Met and the world’s leading tourist attraction, Titanic Belfast. Belfast’s annual visitor numbers are in excess of 3.5m, while 18,000 people work, stay, study, live or play in the area on a daily basis so we have a real mix of customers in Rain Check every day. We have recently partnered with the Belfast Giants and look forward to having some great offers on for their fans for the new season.
HAVE YOU FACED ANY PARTICULAR CHALLENGES TO DATE?
In hospitality, not every week is the same and it is well known that the first year of business is the hardest. We have invested a lot and we continue to work hard to deliver consistently good food. Every week is getting better, and we are learning more each day.
HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR RESTAURANT STAND OUT FROM COMPETITORS?
We have recently extended our opening hours to seven days a week.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR RESTAURANT DEVELOPING?
We have been delighted with the support we have received from our customers in our first six months of business, and online reviews have been fantastic. We are continually looking at ways to build on what we are doing and, who knows, there will maybe be a Rain Check 2 at some point.
ARC Retail Units, Queens Road
028 9099 5114
Mon – 9.30am–4pm
Tue & Wed – 9.30am-7pm
Thur, Fri & Sat – 9am–9pm
Sun – 9am-5pm
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