The Victorian Market Hall is set to reopen next week after more than 20 months of work aimed at making it a must-visit showcase of Highland food and drink.
Work on the £1.6 million project in the category B listed market hall, dating from 1869, got under way in January 2021 and so far three businesses have taken up five units.
They will start to open from September 14.
The central space of the old meat trading and fish hall has been completely redesigned to accommodate 15 new commercial units that can house food, drink and retail businesses.
Highland Council is behind the ambitious redevelopment, which focuses on offering a food and beverage experience.
The so-called anchor tenant is the multi-award-winning Bad Girl Bakery offering cakes, coffee, deli sandwiches and breakfasts but the team will also be running a Good Girl Grocer in the hall as well.
It is recruiting for what it said would be its flagship unit, adding it was seeking “friendly, happy, hard-working people”.
Another award-winning tenant, fresh from success at the Scottish Bar and Pub Awards, is the Malt Room’s Matt MacPherson who was crowned Deanston whiskey guru 2022 and Buzzworks & Montpelier’s emerging entrepreneur of the year.
He will be opening a specialized whiskey shop just a stone’s throw from the Malt Room in Church Street.
He has also taken a neighboring unit to be named Moonshine which will offer cocktails and the best of local beers as well as wine and prosecco for those sitting down in the market hall for something to eat.
Mr MacPherson believes the market hall will make a positive impact on Inverness, saying: “I think it’s great. I think one thing we find at the Malt Room is we get so many visitors to Inverness and there’s just not enough good food and drink offerings.
“There are amazing restaurants but we find a problem is that we find even on a Monday night in summer that wherever we recommend whether it’s Café One, River House, Mustard Seed and so on are always fully booked.
“That is great – great for them that they’re doing well, but we find there’s a lack of places with no reservations where people can come and just have drinks and have food so hopefully this will be a celebration of Highland food and drink and we’re really excited about it.”
Finally, there is Salt N Fire, which with the recent demise of the Alleycat, will offer vegan food from a unit next to the Church Street entrance to the market.
Those behind the eatery are two Albert Roux-trained chefs who already run the successful restaurant The Night Safe, in Hawick.
Operations manager Lara Elsayed said: “We are now in a process of finalizing what we will have but I don’t want to reveal too much right now but it will be like street food from more than one country.
“Some dishes will be from South America, some will be Mediterranean food and if we can find some vegan Scottish food, we will have that.
“We plan to be open from 10am-8pm during the off-peak and during the summer from 10am-10pm and I hope students from UHI can apply here, especially the cooking courses because they will learn something new.”
Highland Council’s Inverness leader Ian Brown said: “It is great to see this part of the Victorian Market being brought back into use.
“The space is very attractive and brings some well-established businesses to the city centre. Their success will hopefully attract more investment and we look forward to seeing our Highland residents enjoying visiting their market again.”
It is further good news for city foodies, coming as Eastgate Shopping Center invests more than £2 million in a new-look food zone which will be known as Loch & Larder and us expected to be open before Christmas.