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INVERNESS LICENSEES MARK DECADE AT HISTORIC PUB

1 March 2021

The licensees of one of Inverness’ oldest pubs are marking their tenth anniversary at the helm with a toast of thanks to the community for supporting them during the pandemic.

Inverness born-and-bred Craig MacLeod and Collette MacPherson took over The Innes Bar on Innes Street in March 2011 when it was little used and unloved. The pub – which dates back to the 1700s  – is believed to be the second oldest in Inverness. Says Craig: “It was sad to see such a historic pub lose its way. The Innes Bar was my dad’s favourite pub and we wanted to restore it to the popular local it was when he was a regular.”

Since taking over the couple have worked tirelessly to put The Innes Bar back on the map undertaking a major refurbishment with the building’s owners Star Pub & Bars, introducing good traditional pub food and bringing in a host of activities from a weekly quiz to sports teams. The Innes Bar is now a hub of local life and known for its warm welcoming atmosphere.

When the pandemic hit Craig and Collette were determined to adapt The Innes Bar in order to keep it afloat in spite of the closures and restrictions. The duo installed a pizza oven and launched an extended takeaway and delivery menu during lockdown. To help with social distancing, they converted the garden into an all weather space complete with heaters, gazebos and lights plus a TV screen for watching sports. The outdoor area proved a magnet when pubs reopened and was busy right through to Christmas.

Says Craig: “The pandemic has been very tough. We were extremely fortunate to have much of our rent cancelled by Star Pubs & Bars, without that it would have been very difficult. We couldn’t have got through Covid – or the last 10 years – without the community though. They have backed us all the way and got behind all the changes we’ve made. We’re very grateful, it has meant the world to us, particularly over the last year. We’d hoped to thank them with a party on our anniversary but that’ll have to wait and, for now, we’re raising a virtual glass to everyone. We can’t wait to open the doors and welcome them back.”

Comments Mick Howard, Star Pubs & Bars operations director: “Craig and Collette turned the pub around 10 years ago and have kept it at the top of its game ever since. To have made even more improvements during a pandemic is an outstanding achievement that requires real commitment. We’ve been delighted to help out with rent support. Hats off and happy anniversary to them! We wish them all the best.” Looking to the future Craig and Collette have no intention of calling time and are in the process of signing up for another five years at The Innes Bar. Adds Craig: “The last ten years have flown by, we’ve loved every minute of it and are looking forward to a good many more.” The couple are currently undertaking a £2,500 mini revamp to ensure The Innes Bar is in perfect order for regulars when it reopens.