Subway celebrates 25 years in Northern Ireland with first restaurant opened on Botanic Avenue in Belfast

The first Belfast restaurant is still open today and there are now a further 88 restaurants across Northern Ireland, owned and operated by local franchise partners
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This month, Subway, one of the world’s largest restaurant brands, is marking 25 years since its first restaurant opened in Northern Ireland on Botanic Avenue in Belfast.

The restaurant is still open today and there are now a further 88 restaurants across Northern Ireland, owned and operated by local franchise partners.

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It was Subway business developers Neil Black and Paul Heyes who introduced Subway to Northern Ireland, opening the first restaurant in June 1998. Since then, the duo, along with Paul’s son Adam Heyes, have been responsible for the growth of the brand in the region.

“Neil and I researched many brands and finally homed in on Subway,” said Paul. “We loved the product and thought that local consumers would too.

“Our restaurants are very adaptable, with different layouts and size requirements depending upon their location, which makes them suitable for everything from city centre shopping centres and local high streets to non-traditional locations like airports, universities, convenience stores and leisure facilities. We believed there was a real opportunity to grow the brand across Northern Ireland and create new jobs.”

Neil explained: “We’re proud to celebrate 25 years of Subway in Northern Ireland. When we introduced Subway to the region, we brought something new to customers looking to dine out. Our first store on Botanic Avenue was well received and the brand has gone from strength to strength.

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Adam added: “We’ve always been fortunate to enjoy the support of a loyal customer base in Northern Ireland and we have been lucky enough to work with a fantastic group of hard-working and entrepreneurial franchise partners. It’s thanks to them – and our brilliant development team – that we have reached this milestone achievement.”

Husband-and-wife team, David and Lillian McClean now own the Botanic Avenue Subway restaurant, which they took over in 2018. No stranger to the brand, David has worked on store refits for Subway for 15 years. The duo also owns another store in Ballyhackamore, Belfast and became franchise owners in 2007.

The restaurant has recently undergone a refit to incorporate the brand’s newest ‘Fresh Forward’ décor and can seat 33 customers.

David and Lillian said: “We feel so proud and so privileged to know that we own a small slice of Subway history here in Northern Ireland. We’ve always been a fan of the brand and with David working on the store fits for so many years, we saw first-hand how good the franchise was. So, we were thrilled when we were able to take the leap and become franchise partners ourselves.”

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Over the last 25 years, Subway in Northern Ireland has helped a significant number of local people fulfil their dreams of becoming their own boss and provided employment for more than 1,300 others.

This month, Subway, one of the world’s largest restaurant brands, is marking 25 years since its first restaurant opened in Northern Ireland on Botanic Avenue in Belfast. The restaurant is still open today and there are now a further 88 restaurants across Northern Ireland, owned and operated by local franchise partners. Pictured marking the event are Adam Heyes, Stacey Brown, Paul Heyes, Subman, David and Lillian McCleanThis month, Subway, one of the world’s largest restaurant brands, is marking 25 years since its first restaurant opened in Northern Ireland on Botanic Avenue in Belfast. The restaurant is still open today and there are now a further 88 restaurants across Northern Ireland, owned and operated by local franchise partners. Pictured marking the event are Adam Heyes, Stacey Brown, Paul Heyes, Subman, David and Lillian McClean
This month, Subway, one of the world’s largest restaurant brands, is marking 25 years since its first restaurant opened in Northern Ireland on Botanic Avenue in Belfast. The restaurant is still open today and there are now a further 88 restaurants across Northern Ireland, owned and operated by local franchise partners. Pictured marking the event are Adam Heyes, Stacey Brown, Paul Heyes, Subman, David and Lillian McClean

In fact, it was in the Botanic Avenue restaurant that business developer Adam Heyes got his first taste of Subway, working there whilst at school and then later at university in a variety of roles. It was this first-hand experience, coupled with watching his Dad, Paul’s success with Subway, that influenced Adam’s decision to join him and Neil in 2014 and become a business developer.