Duke’s restaurant proves popular with Ballater tourism boost

The Rothesay Rooms, Ballater. Credit: Kami Thomson.

Prince Charles’ north-east pop-up restaurant is to become a permanent fixture after thousands enjoyed its high-class dining over the course of its first year.

The Rothesay Rooms and Highgrove Shop were opened in Ballater, initially temporarily, following the devastation caused by Storm Frank’s flooding.

Hundreds of residents were left homeless and scores of businesses were forced to close for months after the River Dee burst its banks in December 2015.

As part of efforts to rebuild the town, the Duke of Rothesay opened the restaurant and luxury gift shop on Netherley Place last January in a bid to drive tourism back to the area.

Now the prince’s charity, Dumfries House Trust, says the work appears to have paid off and that the boutique restaurant will “stay open for the foreseeable future”.

About 1,000 diners visited every month during the summer – despite only serving food from Wednesday evenings to Saturday lunchtimes – with around 600 monthly covers outwith the peak season.

Prior to the restaurant and shop openings, the Duke of Rothesay helped the community by boosting fundraising efforts at the destroyed Ballater Caravan Park.

He was also rumoured to have donated to help save Abergeldie Castle, which was at risk of collapsing into the Dee during Storm Frank’s height.

Kenneth Dunsmuir, executive director of Dumfries House Trust, said: “The aim of our outreach programme is to extend opportunities and lend assistance to communities.

“It is hoped that, by playing our part in bringing business back to Ballater following the awful flooding and fire at the Old Royal Station at Ballater, we can help bring the village back to its former glory and give tourists more reasons to visit beautiful Royal Deeside.”

A new head chef has also been appointed to continue the restaurant’s succcess.

Ross Cochrane, who has worked under Gordon Ramsay and was named north-east chef of the year at the 2017 Hospitality Training Awards, said: “My aim is to raise the bar even higher with original and enterprising dishes made using locally-sourced ingredients.”

Chris Foy, chief executive of VisitAberdeenshire said it was “fantastic”to see Ballater thrive once more.