Leading Publican Recognised with President’s Prize

Leading Publican Recognised with President’s Prize

-Leading Publican Recognised with President’s Prize-

Belfast Chamber of Trade & Commerce has awarded one of Belfast’s best-known publicans, Willie Jack, with a highly coveted President’s Recognition Award. The bar owner received the award for the huge contribution he has made to Belfast’s burgeoning economy alongside excellence in the internal and external dressing of his Belfast pubs, contributing to the unique offering in Belfast.

Willie Jack has been a name synonymous with the bar trade in Belfast for over 30 years. His landmark bar the Duke of York, is one of Belfast’s oldest pubs, and located within the heart of the Cathedral Quarter. His nearby pub, The Harp Bar and, his licensed coffee house , The Dark Horse have also become firm favourites with locals and tourists alike.

Speaking about the award, Paul McMahon, President of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said: “Willie Jack is an astute businessman and Chamber member who has  worked tirelessly for over 30 years to achieve not only his own business objectives, but also for the greater good of the city.

“His offering on the iconic cobbled street in the Cathedral Quarter, is a real credit to him, and to Belfast. The overall appearance of the exterior of his venues is exactly what Belfast needs more of. Impeccably kept, well designed, and maximizing every single opportunity and space in their vicinity - from the colourful flower baskets which adorn the walls of the historic buildings, to the wonderfully creative and humorous wall murals - and this all combined with exceptional Belfast hospitality and live music.”

Paul concluded: “Willie’s creative vision is to be admired, and alongside my Executive Council, look forward to working with him in the future to develop the ideas he has to grow Belfast’s economy even further.”

Willie Jack, originally from Belfast, has been in the catering and hospitality industry since the early 1980s. Throughout that time, he has combined his role as joint director of Hamilton & Kirk, one of Northern Ireland’s leading outside catering companies, with that as a leading Belfast publican and antiques dealer.

Upon receiving his award, Willie Jack, said: “I am delighted the many years that we have been serving the people of Belfast with live music, great hospitality and excellent venues has been recognized in this way.

"I, alongside my business partner Bruce, have owned the Duke of York for over 30 years, and through that time have experienced both great and very difficult trading periods.

“The Cathedral Quarter wasn’t always the fashionable place that it is today, and as a city centre pub during the troubles, trade was practically over after 7pm, as most people vacated Belfast. But we worked hard on our offering, on our hospitality, on the experience that we gave revelers when they did visit us, so that it was memorable, and they came back, in good times and bad.

“Today, Belfast is a booming city, an exciting place to do business, so much so that we have our sights set on opening a fourth bar on Hill Street in a disused warehouse. We feel there is a real gap in the market for a bar for the older age group, specifically the 35 plus to 80 age group.

“Remarkably, this new venture should create additional employment for at least 30 individuals in this formerly run-down part of the city."

Willie concluded: “We are in the planning stages at the moment, but one thing can be sure, it will be a proper old-fashioned bar with live music and decked out in iconic Belfast memorabilia, served with our famous Belfast hospitality.”

Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce’s monthly President’s Awards seek to identify a number of different businesses from their membership who have actively contributed to the economy of the country as a whole. The awards take into consideration a number of factors, from driving footfall to the city to marketing excellence to being an excellent ambassador to visitors.

If you are interested in becoming a member of Belfast Chamber of Trade & Commerce or proposing a member for the President’s Recognition Award, visit www.belfastctc.com or call Martina Connolly on 028 9033 1399.

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