Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

North: First look at former Peterhead school turned into bar and restaurant with Eurasian flavour

North in Peterhead, which officially opens this weekend, has a distinctly Eurasian flair thanks to its co-owners Azerbaijani roots. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson
North in Peterhead, which officially opens this weekend, has a distinctly Eurasian flair thanks to its co-owners Azerbaijani roots. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

This weekend, the North in Peterhead will officially open its doors.

It is an exciting moment for the Blue Toon – the bar and restaurant in the old North School building has designs on being a rival to the nightlife of Aberdeen.

But, says owner John Adam, the launch has been a long time coming.

“We swung our first sledgehammer on January 31, 2021,” explains John, a Peterhead solicitor who is making his first foray into hospitality along with partner Khanim Guild.

The North School building in April 2021. Image: Paul Glendell/DC Thomson

“It is almost exactly two years and a month since we first started this project.”

The long gestation is down to many factors.

But the key delay was the mammoth task of turning the former school premises into a full-scale nightclub, bar and restaurant.

The North School closed in 1981, and since then the site has been used as council offices and even a music school.

John Adam and Khanim Guild in North. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

But by the time John and Khanim started hatching plans for a renovation, the place was falling apart.

“It was leaking in 20 different places,” says John, who adds that the couple’s first priority was to strip out the rot that had taken over the building.

But now the place is up and running, John couldn’t be happier.

“It’s looks fantastic,” he says. “We can’t wait to get started.”

There are Eurasian touches all around the North bar. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson
John and Khanim have spent years overhauling the former school. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

Turkish lights and copper bar, with a hammam on the way

Our exclusive pictures show just how much North has been transformed.

Thanks to Khanim’s Azerbaijani heritage (the couple met when the multi-lingual Khanim was a court translator), the North has a distinctly Eurasian flavour that combines beautifully with the 1870s Victorian architecture of the former school building.

The vaulted ceiling of the old games hall is decorated with a swirl of material to resemble the inside of an Arabian tent.

The inside of the North is designed to look like an Arabian tent. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

Turkish-style lighting adds a muted glow to every nook and cranny.

Meanwhile, the bar is made from a seven-metre long slab of steel that has been copper-plated by a local fabricator.

And this is just the first phase of the redevelopment.

A function room is also set to come online next year, as is John and Khanim’s long-held dream to open a Turkish-style spa – known as a hammam – on the premises.

Turkish-style lights add a muted glow to the North. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

The bar enjoyed a successful soft launch last weekend, that drew in hundreds of guests.

This weekend, the official launch coincides with the North’s restaurant welcoming its first customers.

John says the menu showcases the best of Scotland’s local produce with an Azerbaijani and Turkish twist.

The restaurant in the North serves up Scottish dishes with an Azerbaijani twist. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

A street food menu features things such as koftas and Eurasian spices. Saffron dishes on the menu boast a special family tie to the North bar.

The saffron comes from Khanim’s mother, who grows the notoriously expensive spice back in Azerbaijan.

Building North in Peterhead into a north-east destination

It is touches such as these which make John confident the North will be a new north-east nightlife hub that attracts people from far and wide.

“What we saw last weekend (at the soft launch) was a whole bunch of 25-to-35-year-olds who would probably have been out in Aberdeen,” John explains.

John wants the North to be a destination venue. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson
The North prides itself on its cocktails. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

“What we’re trying to say to people is that you don’t have to go to Aberdeen because we’ve got SkySports, we’ve got a nice bar with a nice vibe. Why are you going to Aberdeen when you have to spend 50 quid on a taxi there and back?”

Some touches of the old North School remain. A few weeks ago, the head teacher of Peterhead’s Central School got in touch to say that the North School’s dux board had been found in their PE store.

A delighted John quickly took delivery of it, and the board is set to hang in the entrance to the North bar.

When John posted about it on Facebook, a swathe of former pupils got in touch including one or two who are on the board.

The dux board of the old school will hang in the North’s entrance. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

But have they been to the bar yet?

“The number of ex-pupils we’ve shown around so far – it must be more than a hundred, easily,” says John.

“I know that some of the people on the board exist, and they’re still with us. So no doubt at some point, we will get a tap on the shoulder saying, that’s me!”


North in Peterhead is open from Wednesday through to Sunday. Opening hours are Wednesday 5pm-12pm, Thursday 12pm-12am, Friday-Saturday 12pm-1am, Sunday 12pm-11pm.

Conversation