Delays have hit work on a £13million revamp of the north’s biggest retail park – ending hope that Nando’s and Frankie & Benny’s could be opened by Christmas.
Bosses at the Inverness Shopping Park had targeted the festive period for the official opening of the popular restaurant chains.
But with just a few weeks to go, work to transform the former Comet store at the retail park into three restaurants was far from complete yesterday.
Chicken specialist Nando’s said yesterday that they now hoped to open its eagerly-awaited eatery in the Highland capital in “early 2017”.
The firm revealed it had taken on a 20-year lease on a 4,294sq ft unit at the park, at an annual cost of £150,290.
Isla Monteith, a partner at Cushman & Wakefield, which handled the acquisition on behalf of Nando’s, said: “Inverness Shopping Park is the biggest retail park in the north of Scotland and a fantastic location for Nando’s latest restaurant.
“I am sure having the first Nando’s in Inverness will attract additional footfall to the park as it is such a popular brand.”
Frankie & Benny’s has also been confirmed for the site, and has advertised for staff, while TGI Fridays, another well-known brand, is expected to complete the line-up.
Work on the project got under way in June amid hopes that the first two restaurants would be open for business in time for the Christmas period.
Along with the upgrade to the existing shops at the shopping park, a customer services building is also being created to house toilets and baby changing facilities, as well as a play area.
Bosses at the site say that 180 full and part-time jobs will be created as a result of the revamp.
Councillors approved the plans in January despite opposition from city centre businesses, including the Eastgate Centre and Inverness BID group, who claimed it would hurt trade in the heart of the Highland capital.
However, a petition urging approval of the three new diners attracted more than 1,200 signatures in less than 48 hours last year.
The Eastgate Centre has since won planning permission to open four new restaurants and a rooftop bar at Falcon Square.