An American barbeque themed restaurant has recorded a 40% increase in turnover since opening a second outlet in Belfast four months ago. Bubbacue secured a £400,000 loan from the Growth Loan Fund to assist with the second outlet, which also created 15 new jobs.
Finance for the £50m Growth Loan Fund – which provides loans to established Northern Ireland SMEs seeking to access growth finance – has been provided by Invest Northern Ireland and private investors, Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC).
Bubbacue first opened in November 2012 as a pop up restaurant before becoming a permanent fixture in Callender Street. Botanic Avenue was chosen as the location for the second outlet because of the owner’s knowledge of the local area and suitable premises coming to market.
John Blisard, Managing Director of Bubbacue, said: “Our second restaurant has only been open since the end of June but it has traded extremely well. The student market is very lucrative and the last month in particular has been hugely successful.
“There is certainly nobody else here or in England doing what we do and in America there are only a few franchises similar to us. The market is heading in one direction and that is towards fast-casual dining. It is something that has been in America for the past 10-15 years and Northern Ireland is only now grasping the concept.”
Looking ahead, Mr Blisard said: “We’re going to be opening the first Bubbacue in Dublin within the next nine months and we have plans to open a third store in Northern Ireland. We have customers who travel from Coleraine and Ballymena so opening a third store around the north coast is the next logical move. It’ll be a new concept to the area and we’re excited about our future expansion plans.”
Neil McCabe, Senior Investment Manager at WhiteRock Capital Partners, commented: “John and Karen’s entrepreneurial spirit has been evident since they first developed a local burrito chain. Bubbacue has brought an innovative concept to the food industry which has continued to evolve and grow in popularity over the past five years.
“There are ambitious business plans ahead for Bubbacue with the owners hoping to gain a major foothold in the Irish market. We were delighted to have been able to help support the launch of their second restaurant and were very impressed with the food and service that they provided for over one hundred guests at our recent corporate event. We look forward to following the company’s future growth.”
WhiteRock Capital Partners LLP, which is authorised and regulated by the FCA, was established in 2012 to manage the Fund and is owned by a consortium of three partners – WhiteRock Finance Limited, NEL Fund Managers and Clarendon Fund Managers.
Companies seeking funding from the Growth Loan Fund must be based in Northern Ireland, demonstrating growth and generally be in the manufacturing, engineering or tradable services sectors. Loans will be typically unsecured and personal guarantees will not be sought.
The loans provided are expected to be complementary to existing sources of finance, including banks, trade finance sources and equity investors. Loans are provided on a fully commercial basis, with monthly loan repayments required over typically a five-year term. For more information about the Growth Loan Fund’s criteria please contact email@example.com or go to www.growthloanfund.com.