Historic Blackfriars has reopened following redevelopment, transforming the Academy Street venue into a high-quality pub with boutique letting rooms.
The £1.36 million investment was enabled by a grant of £422,606 from the Inverness Townscape Heritage Project, a £689,200 investment by the building’s owners, Heineken’s Star Pubs & Bars, and a further £250,000 from the pub’s new operator, Billy McAneney. The project has created 20 new jobs.
The new-look pub, which will be managed by Billy McKechnie, will specialise in locally sourced food and drink, with menus covering breakfast, lunch and dinner. Opening at 7:30am, its morning menu ranges from a traditional Highland to a veggie breakfast. Lunches will focus on pub classics with a Scottish flavour and a modern twist, whilst dinners will be more gourmet. Its drinks offering will feature everything from coffee roasted in Inverness to spirits from Highland distilleries, craft and cask beers and a wide selection of wines.
Taking locally sourced to the next level, in the spring Blackfriars is planning to install beehives and a greenhouse with hydroponic system on a flat roof to provide honey, herbs and edible flowers for cocktails and use in the kitchen.
The Category B listed 18th-century Blackfriars building has been sympathetically restored to reveal original features wherever possible, such as exterior stonework. Inside, the pub is unrecognisable, taking on a contemporary, brasserie look with nine en suite letting rooms on the top two floors – each named after local people and places.
Commenting on the reopening of the pub, Highland Councillor Jimmy Gray, Chair 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.
“Academy Street has a real buzz about it with numerous exciting projects currently underway. I wish the new owners and operators the best of luck and look forward to seeing Academy Street and the city centre continue to flourish.”Blackfriars’ new licensee, Billy McKechnie, 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. We’ll be celebrating the Highlands’ fantastic food and drink and catering for all occasions, whether it’s a light lunch, celebration dinner, or drinks or a coffee with friends.
“It’s all happening on Academy Street at the moment and I can’t wait to welcome locals and visitors to Blackfriars.”Star Pubs & Bars operations director, Brian Davidson, added: “Blackfriars is a historic building and needed a vast amount of work to properly restore it. The grant from the Inverness Townscape Heritage Project has made the work economically viable and helped create a stunning premium venue that does justice to the building and adds to the revitalisation of the Academy Street area. We’re delighted to have been able to contribute to the project.”
Main image: Billy McKechnie and Highland Councillor Jimmy Gray