Super-store sparks six-figure investment in local bar

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THE owners of the Queen’s Hotel in Forfar have demonstrated their commitment to the future of the Forfar economy by announcing a six-figure refurbishment programme for Troopers Bar.

Dundee-based Tayfield Investments, which also owns the Ship Inn in Broughty Ferry, is building on the new-found optimism in the town fuelled by the re-development of the St James House site by Asda and the belief that the new store will bring more people to the town.

Steve Cumming, a director of Tayfield Investments, explained the company has already refurbished the hotel’s bedrooms and the dining room, which have been used by contractors working on the Asda store.

They are now turning their attention to the downstairs bar area.

He confirmed the decision had been prompted by the successful application by Asda to open a store in the town - with the promise of 270 full and part-time jobs.

As a result, after Sunday, May 1, Troopers Bar will close for a five to six week period for a major refurbishment, due to be completed by the start of June.

The investment in the town centre bar will also see the creation of further jobs.

The architect in charge of the project is Nicoll Russell of Broughty Ferry, who has just completed a new restaurant in Glasgow for Jamie Oliver.

Mr Cumming said: “There will be a complete overhaul in the bar - everything is coming out - the bar, seating, it will be stripped back to the bare walls.

“The premises have become a bit tired and dated. The confidence in the future of Forfar, especially with the new Asda plus the housing immediately behind us, has prompted this investment.

“Our rooms have been full since December with contractors working on the site. This is a big investment and I am sure it will make the town centre busier.

“Asda has been the catalyst and I think it is going to help a lot of businesses in the town centre by bringing in a lot of people outwith the town and we hope to tap into that market.”

The hotel business will not be affected by the work in the bar area, and the function suite at the rear of the premises will operate as a temporary bar serving bar lunches, seven days a week.

Mr Cumming hinted the new look bar will have a more contemporary feel and will be re-named.

He concluded: “This will be a complete change of direction for the bar.

“We will try to bring a lot more daylight into the bar. We are going to be raising the floor level beside the windows on the street to bring the outside in.”

Welcoming the investment and the company’s commitment in the town, Mrs Isobel Ross, chairman of Forfar Community Council said: “I am very pleased to hear this. This is excellent news for the town on a whole lot of counts.I am pleased those working on the Asda site are using local facilities while they are here, and am pleased a local business is prepared to invest money into the town.

“We are all hoping Asda will bring money and people into Forfar.

“We, as a community council, have believed that would be the case. There will be a walkway leading down from Asda to Killacky’s Corner which will encourage people to make the short step into the town. We want people to come to Forfar and stay.

“This is a big investment in Forfar on the back of Asda coming to the town. I am pleased they are looking forward for their own business, as well as for the town.”

Work on the demolition of the former St James House and Don and Low headquarters in St James Road is progressing well, with the removal of the original building changing the landscape on the site which straddles the Vennel and New Road.

The go-ahead for the new store was given in January, despite appeals from Angus councillors Glennis Middleton and Colin Brown who warned the new superstore would have a detrimental effect on town centre businesses and sound the “death knell” for local shops.

Despite their objections, members of the council’s development standards committee agreed on January 6 to grant the go-ahead for the supermarket giant to demolish St James House and replace it with a retail superstore, car parking, ancillary works and 16 flats, creating 270 full-time and part-time jobs.

At the time Sarah Mills, Asda’a acting property communications manager for Scotland said: “We want to ensure that local businesses and residents can benefit from the procurement, supply and employment opportunties that the supermarket will bring to the town.”