The newest addition to the Inverness hospitality scene marked its renaissance with a nod to its past life.
The Rose Street Foundry bar, restaurant and music venue opens to the public tonight (sat) ahead of a grand opening on February 2.
But around 300 lucky guests were given an exclusive first look at an invite-only preview.
It was the first time in more than a year the city centre bar in a landmark building, formerly the AI Welders foundry, has been open to customers.
And among the VIPs enjoying what is a re-opening of the premises were former AI Welders staff, some of them in their 90s.
The Cairngorm Brewery bought the historic building in 2013 and spent £2.2 million of a major restoration.
It opened in 2020, less than a week before the Covid lockdown.
It was able to re-open later, but rising staff and energy costs led to it closing in September 2022.
New tenant Rio Sol, a company set up by partners Stuart Forrester and Donald Mackay, was announced in December.
Just two weeks after getting the keys to the premises, they have re-opened the venue, largely keeping the style of the previous bar and many of the original foundry’s artefacts.
Full-size swall murals also depict some of the rich history of Inverness and the Rose Street Foundry.
The preview night saw guests welcomed by a piper and entertained inside by a jazz band, a prelude to live music shows planned in future.
Donald Mackay said: “It’s fantastic to be at the point of opening after such a quick turnaround.
“It’s been a challenge but we’re ready and the support we’ve had has been phenomenal.
“And it’s great that we are marking this occasion with some of the former AI Welders staff.
“It’s great that they can come back and experience the place in its new form.”
Iain MacKintosh, who worked at AI Welders for 33 years, latterly as sales manager, said of the new bar: “I think it’s quite remarkable and it’s great to be here tonight. I hope to be back regularly.
“The murals are tremendous and it marks an important part of Inverness’s history.”
Iain Fraser, who was 20 years at the company and also a sales manager, said: “It’s great to see what they have done with the place and the connection to the foundry.”
His wife Shona Fraser, who was secretary to the works director, said: “It’s part of the history of the town and was one of the main places of employment.
“When visitors come here they want to learn about the history of the place. I think it’s brilliant.”
Richard Paxton, who worked at the Welders for eight years, latterly as a test technician, said: “It was a great place to serve your time. The machines AI welders built were unique.
“It’s great the place and the people are being remembered.”
Chris Manning, the bar’s general manager, who will also be singing with his band in the bar, said it’s been exciting to get to the opening stage.
“When you’re putting things together behind the scenes you have no idea what’s going to happen.
“Now we’ve opened the doors and seen peoples’ reaction there is a real buzz.
“It’s been an enhausting two weeks,but I’m energised now to push it forward.
“This wil be a real hub that people will want to come to. It will be a combination of great good, great music and making the most of this event space.
“I’m really excited to see who will come to play here.”