Smiths bassist opens vegan cafe in ex-pub
AFORMER member of The Smiths who became a gourmet vegan chef is opening a café in a well known former Bangor pub.
Dale Hibbert, bass player with the original Smiths line-up, snapped up the former Kings Arms (O’Shea’s Irish Bar) at auction – the day after first seeing the site.
The musician turned chef and his wife Svet have transformed the rundown building – investing £150,000 in buying and doing up the property.
They have now reopened as vegan/vegetarian coffee house, Domu.
Dale said: “Sometimes you know as soon as you walk into a place it is right – you just fall in the love with it.
“That is what happened here, even with all the mess around. There was something about the place that was special.
“We saw it on a Sunday and bought it at auction on the Monday.”
He added: “We had been looking for a place after selling our café in Todmorden (Yorkshire) and our house in the same week. I love buying at auction because of the speed of it – there is no messing around.”
The couple have been amazed at the interest in the site, which is on the high street close to the city’s cathedral.
He said: “Everyone knew this place as a pub.
“I have not spoken to anyone in this area who has not been there at some point and doesn’t have some memories from there.
“We have changed it but I think people are pleased that the building is coming back into life and it’s an independent running it rather than say a Café Nero or some other chain.
“This is a very important building in Bangor – we are realising that.”
Dale will be head chef at the cafe with Svet front of house, and new staff have been taken on to support them.
The musician, who has been a vegetarian from the age of four, says vegan cookery has come a long way since he started a veggie cafe in Manchester 20 years ago.
He said: “When I was younger vegetarian food was basically just someone scraping the meat off a meal and serving it.
“It has changed so much and now you have Michelin chefs focusing menus purely on vegan food. We think this is a market that will keep on growing and we think we’ll do well in Bangor.
“This is such a great location near the cathedral. Like lots of high streets, Bangor’s has lost a few places and we hope we can help bring people back.
“There is also a restaurant due to open opposite so we can start to create a nice little area. High streets are changing and are now more about the social experience and we can be part of that.”