A couple looking to revive a former west end nightspot in Aberdeen have vowed to shake off its stuffy image and make it welcoming to all.
Simon Cruickshank and his wife, Christie, are already in the thick of a six-figure overhaul of The Albyn, having been granted a licence to trade back in April.
The couple had been living abroad with their two young children when the opportunity to own the former Albyn Place office building turned adult-only bar, which closed in 2018 after 13 years’ trade, came up.
For Mr Cruickshank, raised working in the various Granite City pubs his father operated, it was too good a chance to miss.
“We were in Europe for four years working in hospitality, doing something different helping a friend and learning another aspect of the trade,” he said.
“I’ve been in this business all my life and I want to bring that experience to something iconic like the Albyn.
“What is important for us is that it is family-orientated. We have a young family, and we want that.
“We want to accommodate everyone and make them feel welcome – so we are changing the whole image.”
The dark wooden bar at the front of the building remains, but the couple say they have exciting plans for the venue now the keys are in their hands.
But they are wanting to keep tight-lipped to build the suspense ahead of their planned opening in August.
The Cruickshanks have promised a “complete refit” of the main floor, changing the layout to suit a number of different types of customer.
“We will have the terrace and the bar at the front, a signature room in the middle and the restaurant at the back.
“The signature room is one of the big secrets.
“We want everyone to feel welcome and enjoy what we are doing with the place – all will be revealed in a few months’ time.
“It’s very important for us to support local, from the construction right through to the whole structure when we open – as much as we can.”
Construction workers have already been clattering around the bar for weeks, causing passers-by to peer through the tall iron gates to try to catch a glimpse of the inside.
Our photographer joked with the new owners that he was refused entry the last time he had arrived at The Albyn, for the cardinal sin of wearing trainers – a policy both were quick to reject for their ‘new’ Albyn.
Mrs Cruickshank said: “We are not talking about climbing frames but we just want everyone to feel welcome; whether coming for lunch with your gran or coming in with the guys to watch sport, or for the family Sunday lunch. Everyone is welcome.
“I am not from Aberdeen originally but everyone I have spoken to said there was quite an air about the place.
“We reckon it’s such a big site we will be able to create different elements throughout that accommodate different people.
“It’s been a strange time with the pandemic and the last year – it might not be a time people think to open a new business but when it came up it was something Simon couldn’t turn down; the idea of bringing The Albyn back to life in a new way.”
Mr Cruickhank’s father, also Simon, currently runs the Ploughman in Culter and has reassured the couple they will not be short of custom once the doors open.
“My dad has told us how busy he is, and it is nice to see places with a buzz back.
“I’m very positive about the trade, more than ever after people want to get out more, socialise, after what’s happened over the last months.
“Life is too short and you have to make the most of it.”