East Belfast restaurant owner's new beginnings after closing doors on 13 years of memories

Annemarie Little, owner of Belvedere Café Restaurant in East Belfast
-Credit: (Image: Justin Kernoghan/Belfast Live)

Annemarie Little knows all about the significance of new beginnings. Six months ago she was facing an uncertain future, having just closed her business after almost 13 years.

The owner of the popular Belvedere Restaurant in East Belfast bowed out on Christmas Eve 2023 after the premises she had been operating out of on the Cregagh Road was repossessed.

This sounds like so many establishments across Northern Ireland and further afield that have been forced to close their doors due to the Covid pandemic and cost of living pressures. But Annemarie isn’t like most other people and now she is bouncing back.

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Her determination has led to a new premises on the corner where the Newtownards Road meets Bloomfield Avenue - the new home for Belvedere Café Restaurant - which will open its doors this weekend.

Speaking to Belfast Live ahead of reopening day on Saturday, Annemarie admitted that it's been a very long six months of ups and downs: "As a family we have fought to our last breath trying to save Belvedere in the months leading up to last December and many good and loyal customers and friends from all over East Belfast and further afield tried as well but unfortunately we couldn't.

"At the time it was devastating as it was an absolute pleasure to serve everyone that came through our doors and many friendships were formed along the way. I had nearly 13 very happy, memorable, funny, heart-warming, outrageous years in Belvedere.

"All the kind, loving, positive, caring comments made a very bitter pill to swallow a lot easier and last Christmas Eve was a very sad day for the whole team. But I dusted myself down and went off to Australia for a few weeks to stay with a very close friend and former staff member. That was to get myself into a better mind space but when I came home it wasn't the best time."

When an estate-agent friend of Annemarie approached her with a possible new opportunity that was up for rent, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for her to start over. It's been a busy few weeks getting the new premises kitted out, which features some eye-catching artwork created by local artist Kerrie, aka Mrs Maker.

Annemarie is bouncing back in the new Belvedere home
Annemarie is bouncing back in the new Belvedere home -Credit:Justin Kernoghan/Belfast Live

Annemarie added: "This is not just a restaurant, it's my dream realised. Now it's time for new beginnings and to make new memories in a new place. The name, menu and team that you all loved will be making a comeback this weekend. I think it's a good time to be opening in time for the summer and there's a lot of events happening in the local area.

"I'm conscious of the cost of living crisis and I've noticed the rise in food prices over the past six months but I'm being careful and navigating through it in terms of food, wastage and using electricity and gas. Six of my old team have come back to me as well as my main chefs, who are extremely loyal to me.

"Everyone is delighted and many old customers have been in touch after seeing the Belvedere signs up in a new space, asking if it's me making a comeback. I'm looking forward to welcoming them all back as well as many new faces too.

"It's been a long six months out of business with some very difficult days for me but I'm feeling so positive again. We can't wait to see everyone again on Saturday and get the doors of Belvedere open again."

You can keep up to date on the Belvedere Café Restaurant page on Facebook.

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