THE city centre’s booming hospitality sector is set to get another new addition.
Entrepreneur property developer Charlie Barbour, who owns the White House cocktail bar and bistro in Union Street, is set to open a second pub on neighbouring Queensgate in what he’s hoping will be a quick turnaround.
Next to the post office the premises has been home to various hostelries over the years and Mr Barbour said he is satisfied it can be fully refitted and ready for business within just four weeks.
With work beginning this week, he said: “It should take a week to do the main stripping out, then a couple of weeks for refitting and a week or so after that for the final touches.
“It’s a fairly ‘transformational’ project we have planned but the White House was done in 14 days so it’s certainly possible to turn these things round quickly.
“The property has been vacant for about three years now so it will be good to bring it back into use – the city centre has enough empty properties as it is.”
Mr Barbour was remaining tight-lipped on exactly what people can expect from the new venture, including what the new pub will be called, though it is understood it could be a sports bar.
There has been something of a mini boom for the city centre hospitality market in recent months including the granting of planning permission for the redevelopment of the former AI Welders building in Academy Street by Cairngorm Brewery.
Permission has also been granted to upmarket pub and restaurant chain Revolution to take over the former McEwens of Perth premises in Church Street while two restaurants – Wildwood and Smashburger – have been announced as new tenants in the planned redevelopment of the Eastgate Shopping Centre beside Falcon Square.
Despite this, Mr Barbour is confident there is sufficient demand for his latest venture to succeed.
“The hospitality industry in Inverness is pretty strong and while it’s always a challenge to keep things going outside of the busy tourist season I’m confident we’ll be able to run a successful venture,” he said.
Meanwhile, efforts to rejuvenate Academy Street are continuing with plans to replace modern shop fronts with more “traditional” designs.
The Townscape Heritage Project, which brings together a number of organisations including Highland Council, is leading the work which it says aims to have “a positive impact on the economic and social success of the area”.
Polish convenience store Pol-ness is currently a pilot for the project.