Well here go! Our first Blog from MacGregor's Bar. We'll be writing about all the amazing beers, spirits and food we have available in the bar. We'll also be keeping you up to date with the music and events that happen in our bar.
We set out to make this a bar that really celebrated Scottish food, drink, music, culture and history. We weren't interested in just sticking a Saltire flag on the wall, serving bland generic lagers and deep frying every dish. We wanted to create something that picked up on the burgeoning craft beer movement, the explosion of amazing Scottish gins, the wealth of malt whiskies, our incredible traditional music scene and of course our history!
We had the building 109-113 Academy Street in Inverness which had been in the MacGregor family since the late 1970's. Bought by my father, Brian MacGregor, it was transformed into a car showroom for flashy looking Mercedes and beautiful VW Beetles. When he moved to another garage, the property was leased by Ramage Fruit and Veg, a Victoria Wine store, a toy shop, a couple of pram shops, a hairdressers and a Blysthswood charity store.
In the very first days of the building being converted into a car showroom, I vividly remember being brought to the site on weekends alongside my dad, uncle, cousin and brother and spending time 'pointing' and repairing the walls. I vividly remember working in the basement and being frozen solid and wanting to be anywhere other than in that basement.
However one unusual thing has stuck in my mind from that period. I was a huge fan of the Beetles and I remember thinking to myself "Wow, wouldn't it be amazing if we could have a basement club like the Cavern"
I was probably about 10 years old. I spoke to my school friends about it and they laughed. I was reminded recently that I was still talking about the site as a pub and music venue when I was in my teens. The dream has always lurked in the background, and then a few years ago I got the opportunity to make it a reality.
The building had been empty for a few years. Academy Street was a bit of a dead-end and no-one seemed interested in taking the site on from my father (he'd even approached Anne Summers!).
The pitching flyers and online campaign #buildthebar
I suggested I'd like to make it into a pub and restaurant. He didn't really take much notice. I had no money and just a pipe dream. I was then introduced to a crowd funding business, SquareKnot, and a man called Derek Bond. The concept of crowd funding a proper business was almost beyond me but Derek took me through the process. We looked at business models, we worked on budgets and we came up with a plan. Then the hard work started ; doing the business pitches to potential investors. It started well and then dipped for a while, it then picked up and it started snowballing and then we hit our target! £150,000 raised from 140 investors.
The demolition crew borrowed from Highland Rugby Club front row!
We celebrated in December 2016 and there was such enthusiasm for the project that we opened up the fund again and a few more investors came on board.
She didnt just project manage the whole thing - she even made the bar stools! Jo De Sylva
Almost a year later later. Lots of stress and tears but thanks to my wonderful wife, Jo De Sylva, who project managed the whole thing from planning, to interior design, to buying supplies to dealing with teams of contractors to getting the final building sign offs we opened officially on St Andrews night 2017. This is the start of the journey!