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New food place set to open in Lochinver

By Iona M.J. MacDonald

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A NEW eatery is set to open later this year in a north-west Sutherland port.

Jason MacLeod, who runs self-catering accommodation Waterloo Lodge at Baddidarrach, overlooking Lochinver, is behind the enterprise.

He is currently converting a dilapidated old building, sited next to arts and crafts shop Rockpool on the village’s Main Street, into a small cafe and takeaway.

The property is said by one local resident to have previously served as a craft shop and at one time was also a small bakery.

Mr MacLeod is calling his new business the Old Net Shed in a nod to Lochinver’s maritime history.

The Old Net Shed will offer high-quality food at mid-range prices.
The Old Net Shed will offer high-quality food at mid-range prices.

“I thought it would work very well as a food location,” he said. “I wanted to take the opportunity to invest in a business. We want to provide jobs for local people and also bring more visitors to the village.”

Work on transforming the property began in April and represents a large investment on the part of Mr MacLeod, who spent £25,000 on its purchase and expects the final renovation and outfit costs to be in the region of £120,000.

He said: “The place was completely derelict. We have had to do a lot of work including digging up the floor and put plumbing in. We must have taken away about 50 tons of material in wheelbarrow loads. It has been quite a process!”

The community is being kept up to date with the progress of the renovation through photographs and posts on Facebook and Instagram pages set up for the business.

“Having the community get involved through social media is a good way of getting people to know about the place, and to get feedback and people’s thoughts and ideas,” said Mr MacLeod.

“I do the same with my other business. I ask people what they’d like to see in the property and ask for their opinions through our social media.

“At the end of the day those are the people who will be buying your products. If the community don’t like people who own the place, they won’t shop there. Relationships and connections are important.”

The Old Net Shed, which hopes to be open by October, will have five to seven bistro-style tables and chairs in a rear area. It will offer high-quality food at mid-range prices. Expected to be on the menu are bacon rolls, sandwiches, shellfish, prawns, with fish and chips in the evening.

It is also intended to start an online order service.

Mr MacLeod said: “We want to offer locals the opportunity to get reasonably priced quality products. A lot of the food on offer in the village is on the higher end of pricing; we want to give some cheaper options for lorry and delivery drivers, as well as locals.”

He is keen that customers have a good experience when they visit.

“I want the Old Net Shed to reflect the character of the village,” he said. “I would rather take the extra time and invest to make it look as original as possible.

“I think that Highland culture has been diluted over the generations so I want the place to have a sense of culture.

“I would like people to have a really nice, quaint Highland experience when they come in and one of the ways we will do this is to have traditional Scottish music playing.”

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