A Belfast social enterprise that uses its profits to support people with barriers to employment and learning into the workforce has redeveloped a burnt-out bar in west Belfast into a café and bakery, creating 10 jobs and up to 100 training placements for catering trainees with learning difficulties.
Loaf, which runs an outside catering and café business in the greater Belfast area, officially opens its new outlet tomorrow (June 17) on the former site of the Oak Bar directly across from the entrance to the Royal Victoria Hospital on West Belfast’s Grosvenor Road.
Loaf’s profits are reinvested back into the work of its parent organisation NOW Group, the Northern Ireland Social Enterprise of the Year that works to support people with barriers to employment and learning into the workforce across NI.
Maeve Monaghan, Chief Executive of NOW Group, said the development has been “a long time coming for Loaf”.
“We bought the Oak Bar back in March 2014 and hoped the redevelopment would be fully-funded,” she said.
“However, we’ve secured loan finance and used our own monies to turn this around.”
“There’s been tremendous goodwill from all quarters towards us to push this development through to completion as this isn’t just another café and bakery – this business is socially invested in the area in which it’s based. Our aim was to regenerate a vacant, burnt-out space in one of the most marginalised parts of the city and turn it back into a thriving business that contributes to the heart of this community. The building was the site of a thriving, family-owned Oak Bar that was popular with local people and NOW Group want to continue that with this café and bakery.
“We’re providing jobs and training opportunities for local people and for NOW Group’s catering trainees with learning difficulties, but we also want local people and community groups to see it as their space too. We want to link-in with the Royal Victoria Hospital and offer the café as a safe, welcoming space for people to get a coffee, charge their phones and access Wifi.”
Loaf Café and Bakery is situated at 307 Grosvenor Road, Belfast, and is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 3pm.
For more information on Loaf, visit www.loafcatering.com, or follow them on twitter at @LovelyLoaf