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Blackfriars pub in Inverness to reopen after refit

By Ian Duncan

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The exterior of the newly-refurbished Blackfriars.
The exterior of the newly-refurbished Blackfriars.

BLACKFRIARS pub is set to reopen its doors today following a £1.36 million investment.

The move, creating 20 new jobs, has transformed the Academy Street venue into a high-quality pub together with nine new letting rooms.

It was made possible by a £422,606 grant from the Inverness Townscape Heritage Project, together with a £689,200 investment by the building’s owners, Heineken’s Star Pubs and Bars, and a further £250,000 from the pub’s new operator Billy McAneney.

The Category B listed building has been restored to reveal original features wherever possible, such as exterior stonework.

The new owners will also be taking the idea of locally sourced produce to the next level – with plans to install beehives and a greenhouse on a flat roof area in the spring, to provide honey, herbs and flowers for use in the pub’s cocktails and food offering.

Licensee Billy McKechnie toasts the new pub with Highland councillor Jimmy Gray.
Licensee Billy McKechnie toasts the new pub with Highland councillor Jimmy Gray.

Highland councillor Jimmy Gray, chairman of the Inverness Townscape Heritage Project, said: “What a transformation! I’m over the moon to see this historic building restored and reinvented for today’s clientele.”

Billy McKechnie, Blackfriars’ new licensee, said: “I’m excited to be part of this new chapter for Blackfriars. We’ve tried to bring something different to Inverness in terms of design and we’re really proud of the work done to transform the pub.”

He added: “It’s all happening on Academy Street at the moment and I can’t wait to welcome locals and visitors to Blackfriars.”

Elsewhere in Academy Street Cairngorm Brewery’s refurbishment of the former AI Welders building is continuing, with reports to a Highland Council committee this week suggesting it could be completed by the end of the month.

And George MacLean, the owner of the Phoenix Ale House across the street, says he plans to reopen the hostelry next week after giving the premises a lick of paint.

He said: “The Phoenix is looking fresh, in keeping with all the neighbouring premises, and I am sure all the traders should be quite buoyant about what’s happening at this end of Academy Street.”

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