Blinkers has been here for around 40 years, and I’ve worked here for the last 15. I’ve noticed a lot of change in the Cathedral Quarter in that time. We’ve seen a big increase in tourists, coming to hotels or through on bus tours.
This area is still traditional Belfast. We have customers coming here for 20 years or more. In some cases, there are three generations of families who’ve been coming here; customers who tell me they first came here with their grandparents, and now they’re grandparents themselves, bringing in their grandchildren. We enjoy hearing that, it’s great to have that kind of relationship with your customers.
We’re aware of the plans to redevelop. I think development here needs to be done in sympathy to the area. Take the big Northern Bank, it doesn’t do any good for buildings like that to sit empty, and there are a lot here that are. I think almost any re-use for them would be good, but I feel sympathy with local traders that may be displaced.
On a previous proposal, this site was earmarked for demolition, but the current plans have changed. We own our premises now, so we aren’t as vulnerable, but we still worry about a compulsory purchase order, because we employ 25 people. I have mixed feelings about all this, because some of the buildings are falling down, but others really should be saved.
20-storeys is too much for this area, it would be completely out of place, a huge building sticking out surrounded by three-storey buildings. I would disagree with that.
Anthony McGuirk, Blinkers Restaurant, 1 Bridge Street