A NEPALESE restaurant in the West End is about to become the 50th business in the Capital to have its historic shopfront restored as part of a project to boost trade by recapturing the prestige of the past.
Edinburgh World Heritage has handed out grants totalling more than £3 million to help shops and restaurants dotted across the city to reinstate their Georgian or Victorian frontages.
And the latest target is West Maitland Street, one of the areas where businesses were badly affected by the lengthy tram construction works.
The street’s Khukuri restaurant – which bills itself as the Capital’s first Nepalese restaurant – will be the 50th shopfront to be restored.
Manager Bimal Giri said: “I’m so pleased that Edinburgh World Heritage is helping to improve the appearance of the street and of my business’s shopfront. The last few years have been difficult for many of us, but with these improvements we can look forward to better times ahead.”
It is hoped another 20 or more properties in the area will also benefit from the scheme over the next few years.
A study found that shops saw an increase of 10 to 15 per cent in footfall and turnover after their frontages had been restored.
The project, which began in 2000, gives 80 per cent grants for the restoration work and is funded by the city council, Historic Environment Scotland and some private donations.
Edinburgh World Heritage said the Capital had beautiful old shopfronts which made it different from other cities.
West Maitland Street was once an important approach to the city from the west, with many early and mid-19th century frontages, but the area has recently experienced several years of “unstable trading”, which shop owners attributed to the tram works and parking restrictions, and as a result the overall look of the street and of individual shops had suffered.
Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage, said: “We expect these shopfront restorations to give a real boost to local business owners.
“Our research indicates this work not only makes our streets more enjoyable for people to stroll down but also increases customer footfall and the turnover for the businesses.”
Over the 16 years of the project, Edinburgh World Heritage has spent just over £3m on grants. Previous parts of the city which have been a focus for the scheme include the Grassmarket, Royal Mile Mansions and East Norton Place, off London Road.
Lesley Hinds, convenor of the city council’s infrastructure and environment committee, said: “This is an important milestone for Edinburgh World Heritage and for the city.
“Street by street, this crucial work is helping to make the city more attractive, as well as supporting the local economy.”