Belfast based publican Brendan Boylan saw something in me that prompted him to gave me a job when I was about 15. I’ve been in the drinks industry for over forty years.
I’ve been here, running Bittles Bar in downtown Belfast, for almost 30 years. I enjoy my work and have to up my game every day. The job changes all the time. Every day you are meeting different people and overcoming different challenges.
Due to Game of Thrones and other Holywood movies being produced here, and putting Northern Ireland well and truly on the tourist map, our pub has become much more tourist orientated.
To keep up with demand, we have increased the range of the great Irish craft beers and gins we stock, including locally made craft beers not available in other Belfast pubs.
Our range of whiskies has also grown dramatically. A pair of customers came in recently and tried ten different whiskeys, one after the other.
Our customer range from those on a low income to business types on six figure salaries. You can listen to and learn from any of our customers. Some people are sound enough, and others not so much.
Every day is a challenge. You have to keep upping your game and cater for every body.
Brendan Boylan owned the Morning Star. An old time publican, Brendan came to Belfast from Tyrone to work in the pub game and then take his own pub on. Brendan was a bit of a fatherly figure, who tried to tell you how to do the job and to keep you right.
What I learned from working for Brendan helped me when I started Bittles Bar when I was twenty-nine and during the height of The Troubles. When you’re young you think nothing of how The Troubles could have very easily negatively affected me and my business.
Bittles Bar always is always busy. We have our regulars, including people going to or from concerts and sporting events.
I run a basic Irish pub where people come in, enjoy the art and historical paraphernalia on the walls while having a drink, and a chat with the regulars. It’s all good.
John Bittles – owner, Bittles Bar, Belfast
Photography: Bout Yeh photographers Belfast