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£1.36m transformed Inverness inn to reopen tomorrow

Star Pubs & Bars and hospitality operator, Billy McAneney are reopening Blackfriars in Inverness tomorrow following a £1.36m redevelopment that has created 20 new jobs.

The investment, enabled by a £422,606 grant from The Inverness Townscape Heritage Project, is Star’s biggest-ever refurbishment in Scotland and provides a further boost to the regeneration of Inverness’ Academy Street area.

The project has transformed Blackfriars into a high-quality pub specialising in outstanding locally sourced food and added nine boutique en suite letting rooms to the building’s two upper storeys. The venue is McAneney’s fourth site with Star and the twelfth hospitality business in which he has an interest.

The extensive revamp has sympathetically restored the outside of the Category B listed 18th-century building, removing render to reveal the original stonework and reinstating traditional sash and case windows. The chimneys have been rebuilt and the roof replaced.

A complete refurbishment of the ground floor has extended the kitchen, replaced the toilets and given the pub a striking, contemporary brasserie feel, with stripped floors, exposed brickwork and vibrant colours. The letting rooms are finished to a high spec, have their own individual décor and are named after famous Inverness people and places.

Blackfriars’ menus will focus on modern Scottish cuisine, use seasonal ingredients and showcase produce from the Highlands. Food is served all day starting with breakfast at 7.30am, which includes options such as a traditional Highland breakfast and a Veggie Delight.

The lunch menu features pub classics with a Scottish flavour and contemporary twist, whilst the dinner menu is described as ‘gourmet’. The pub stocks an extensive selection of premium drinks, spanning Inverness-roasted coffee, spirits (including products from distilleries north of Inverness and Speyside), as well as craft and cask beers and a wide choice of wines.

To underline Blackfriars’ commitment to local produce, in the spring McAneney is planning to install beehives and a greenhouse with a hydroponic system on a flat roof to provide honey, herbs and edible flowers for the pub’s cocktails and kitchen.

McAneney said, “Inverness continues to go from strength to strength as a city and a holiday destination. It’s exciting to be part of its renaissance. We’ve tried to bring something different to Inverness in terms of design as well as to celebrate the area’s food and drink.

'Our aim has been to create a place that both locals and visitors enjoy and that caters for all occasions, whether it’s a light lunch, celebration dinner, or drinks or a coffee with friends.”

Star Pubs & Bars operations director for Scotland, Brian Davidson said, “Blackfriars is a historic building and needed a vast amount of work to restore it properly.

'The grant from The Inverness Townscape Heritage Project has made the work economically viable and helped us enable Billy to develop a multi-income stream business and a premium venue that does justice to the building.

'Billy is highly experienced in all areas of the hospitality sector. It has been fantastic to work with him on this project and bring Blackfriars back to life.”