High praise for church refurb | Scottish Licensed Trade News

Scottish Licensed Trade News

High praise for church refurb

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Project has transformed local restaurant business

The stained glass window is said to be one of a kind in Britain

A VETERAN chef and restaurateur has taken his business to a higher plane after relocating his Perthshire restaurant to a local church.

Willie Little has run seafood restaurant Little’s in the town of Blairgowrie for seven years.

In 2016 he wanted to expand the business and, rather than refurbish the existing restaurant, decided to buy and redevelop the nearby Riverside Methodist Church – around 100 yards away from the original restaurant.

“I walked past it every day thinking ‘should I buy it?’” Little told SLTN.

“It took me ten viewings. Eventually the agent said ‘are you going to put an offer in or just leave it?’”

The historic church was completed in 1887 and features a stained glass window created to commemorate the 7000 members of the Labour Corp who died in the First World War – said to be the only one of its kind in Britain.

The refurbishment of the building, which was carried out in conjunction with architect Henry Dempsey of Harry Taylor & Co, took around 18 months, with the acquisition and alteration of the building costing around £900,000.

The extensive project included replacing sections of the roof and having the flooring re-laid.

The new, 100-cover restaurant opened its doors at the beginning of the year, and since then Little said the venue has been going like a fair.

“We’ve got a good reputation for food, and this has enhanced it,” he said.

“Since we’ve moved to the church we’ve got a much younger group of customers coming to us, which is very encouraging.

“I’ve been in the area a long time – 30 years. I’ve had four other restaurants in the area, a couple of hotels. So people know what to expect from me.”

And Little takes no chances when it comes to suppliers. His main seafood supplier is himself, via his fishmonger business, Fish in Crieff.

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