A husband-and-wife team have opened their second food and drink business in Inverness.
Rob and Sarah Steadman had the idea to open a food shop in the city for more than two-and-a-half years.
Now, the pair have opened Merchant’s Delicatessen on Castle Street – which offers local and European delicacies.
The couple also own wine bar The Walrus & Corkscrew on Church Street, which opened in 2021.
The idea behind Merchant’s Delicatessen
Rob said the couple received questions from several customers about where products for the wine bar were sourced.
He claims it made sense from there to make sure visitors were able to purchase the product locally.
Rob said: “It was an idea formed about 20 months ago not long after opening the wine bar.
“Partly due to number of visitors both local, UK and overseas asking us where we sourced our produce that we served from and where could they buy it.
“The answer we discovered was not very easily unless you had a car as the number of options to buy items were limited – with nothing in the town centre readily available.”
Following thorough research, the couple say they were then ready to take on the Castle Street unit.
Rob added: “Once the castle renovations opposite are complete, the footfall from tourism walking by should continue to grow.
“It’s positioning also allows a large local residential population to pop in to buy items without needing the car.”
The unit is the original site of the old Mackintosh Fruit shop and dates back as far as the 17th century.
What’s on offer?
The delicatessen offers products sourced from the Highlands as well as further afield in Scotland and across Europe.
Rob said: “From charcuterie to cheeses, pate to Christmas panettone, there are also a variety of gluten free and vegan products too.”
“We are lucky enough to have one of the greatest natural larders on our doorstep something that is recognised by many visitors who want to try as much as possible.
“As with the wine bar we will listen to our customers and if certain items we don’t stock now regularly crop up in requests we will get them in later.
“Some might think we are mad to open just before Christmas.
“But then again they thought we were mad opening a wine bar the weekend the UK came out of major lockdown.
“We would like to thank all those customers who have popped in and supported us since the soft opening last Saturday.”
Driving force for new Inverness shop
Rob praised his partner’s role in the new business and called her “the driving force” behind the project.
He said: “The driving force behind this project has been Sarah.
“For many years she has come up with ideas for other projects – only for someone else to get in before.
“Hence once the decision was made, speed was of the essence – though not always easy when dealing with certain parties.
“It’s been a bit of a Helter Skelter ride over the last few months to open in time with a few minor technicalities enough to cause delays, not through the want of trying.”