The clever idea is to attract revellers to end the night in comfort rather than queueing up in late-night fast food joints
Southside Social punters can enjoy grub like curries and noodles at a replica counter built in the boozer called Lucky Duck.
They can then continue to enjoy drinks in the late licence joint (it’s open until 3am) after collecting their order in cartons and packing, just like a classic Chinese carry-out.
The clever idea — the first of its kind here — is to attract revellers to end the night in comfort rather than queueing up at counters in late-night fast food joints.
Owner Peter Ringland said: “You’ll come in as if it’s a normal bar and order your drinks at the bar and then the idea is that it’s experiential, so you come in to the takeaway and order your food.
“And then they’ll bring it out in a wee plastic bag like a takeaway with the receipt stapled to it and then you bring it back to your seat and eat it at your table.
“It’s a Chinese restaurant with a novel way to experience it.”
The concept was developed after seeing a pub in Australia serving up oriental food and that provided the spark to create a unique experience for revellers in south Belfast at the establishment, part of the Town Square complex on Botanic Avenue.
The investment into Lucky Duck and Southside Social by Peter’s company Ringland Group, which also owns The Flint Hotel in Belfast, has been around £300,000.
Their development manager Thomas Camblin said: “The thinking of it came from one of our crazy meetings, and when we saw a similar concept in another city, albeit slightly different, we thought: ‘How could we translate the concept there with a Chinese restaurant inside a complex?’
“‘How could we translate that in a Belfast context?’
“And the most recognisable thing is the retro Belfast Chinese takeaway. So that was kind of the start of it.”
They then executed a plan to repurpose and reimagine the former Town Square back bar, including taking around a quarter to a third of it to create this new idea.
Peter continued: “We’ve kept it really independent from Town Square and that’s why the whole front’s different, customers can’t go between, you have to go around.
“We have a different staff, different DJ style, different everything. We’ve a new chef team specifically for the Chinese element, people who have experience in creating Asian cuisine.
“It’s a twist on all the classic dishes, so we’ve got the curries, honey chilli, black bean, you know. It hits all the most common orders on the head. We said to the Asian chefs that we brought in, ‘What’s the thing that everyone orders in the restaurants?’ And it’s the same five things people order most in a Belfast Chinese.”
Other quirky features include classic takeaway menu leaflets, fortune cookies and a resident DJ on Friday and Saturday nights from 8pm in a booth inside the wall behind the bar.
Peter added: “We’re open late to 3am, we’ve got our late licence, so we’re getting a food hit around dinner time and then a late-night food hit because the people are having a good few drinks and then are wanting something later on in the night.
“We serve food in the Chinese here until 2am at weekends, and then still have an hour to enjoy it before closing time.
“Before this, you might end up in a kebab shop freezing with no more alcohol, but here you’re coming into a nice space again.
“It’s almost like the end of the night experience, but it’s actually a nice way to round off your evening.”
To find out more about the venue, view the menu or make dinner bookings visit www.luckyduckchinese.co.uk and www.southside.social websites