The head chef at a flood-hit North-east restaurant today told of a fresh blow for the popular business when it was the target of a “senseless” vandal attack.
Ballater’s India on the Green restaurant was so badly damaged by Storm Frank in December 2015 that the landmark building in Victoria Road was forced to shut for nine months.
The most recent setback was in the early hours of Sunday morning when vandals smashed a stained-glass window.
The restaurant’s award-winning head chef Abdul “Raj” Hamid, 41, said that, while he does not believe yobs specifically targeted the business, repairing the window will be a major problem.
“This is a listed building and that limits what we are able to do when it comes to making changes to the restaurant,” said Mr Hamid.
“The stained-glass window was a real centrepiece and would get us a lot of passing trade from people who would see it and would want to come inside – now it’s all smashed up. It’s totally senseless.
“Ideally, we want to put it back to what it was, but it is a question of how much that will cost and how much time it will take.”
Mr Hamid said the restaurant closed at 11pm on Saturday evening and staff had all left by 1am.
“A member of staff lives above the restaurant and he heard a loud bang at 3.30am.
“At the time, he didn’t think much of it, but woke up a few minutes later and came downstairs,” said Mr Hamid.
“He called myself and the police. We saw the door was damaged, but nothing was taken.
“We had to close on Sunday lunchtime, but have been trying to get back to normal since.
“We suffered a lot due to the floods and this is another setback, but hopefully our customers will stick with us.”
Mr Hamid is set to take advice from Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which keeps a record of listed buildings across the country.
According to HES, the mid-19th-century building is listed because it is an “unusually asymmetrical building set in a prominent position in the Church Square”.
The listing adds: “Ballater was a planned town, instigated by the local laird Francis Farquharson at the end of the 19th century in order to provide accommodation for the growing number of visitors to the nearby Pannanich Wells.
“The town was established on a grid pattern and early maps show the Church Square as the principal square, with other roads forming a grid pattern around it.
“The buildings around the square, therefore, form a vital part of the town, both visually and historically.
“The unusual features of this building set it apart from the others in the square.”
In February Mr Hamid won Chef of the Year at the Aberdeen City and Shire Curry Awards before winning Chef of the Year at the Scottish Curry Awards for the second year in a row.
He has also been recognised in the House of Commons as one of the top 30 Asian chefs in the UK.
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We received a report on July 23 that damage had been caused at India on the Green in Victoria Road, Ballater.
“Our inquiries are ongoing and we would appeal for witnesses or anyone with information to get in touch with us by calling 101.”