FOR more than 160 years it has been the opulent heart of the Capital’s bar scene, inspiring literary greats and Oscar-winning Hollwood productions.
And now, one of Edinburgh’s most historic pubs has been revamped as part of a six-figure refurbishment project aimed at opening it to a new clientele.
The heritage listed Cafe Royal – famed for its iconic circular bar and ornate Victorian fittings – previously starred on the big screen in the 1981 Eric Liddell biopic Chariots of Fire and attracts dozens of tour groups eager to take in the striking interior every week.
The bar, now owned by brewing giant Belhaven, went through a previous refurbishment in 2008 following consultation with local councillors over the listed building status.
And manager Chris Goddard, 36, said this latest project would help the historic establishment move into the modern era, while retaining its original features.
Chris added: “The bar was designed when it wasn’t nearly as busy, so a lot of the work has just been making that more accessible and adding the capacity for a wider range of drinks for those coming through the door.”
“A lot of the work we have done has been with one eye on the heritage and history of the place, that is what has made it so special over the years, so the whole roof, all the cornicing has been restored, the gold leaf has been returned to its original dark green colour.”
Originally a furniture and toilet showroom, the building became the Cafe Royal in 1863 and survived a takeover attempt by Woolworths shortly after the end of the First World War to become one of the city’s most popular watering holes.
Chris said he now hopes to see the bar return to its heyday following the revamp, adding: “Some of the stories here from the fifties and sixties are just tremendous, I would love to see it reach those heights again.”
“We have the right management and owners for that to happen, hopefully this is the first step.”