Forever Edinburgh: Local businesses prepare to reopen doors

Edinburgh is reopening for business on Monday and Capital traders and attractions have been working hard behind the scenes to make themselves Covid safe to welcome locals back.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 23rd April 2021, 4:06 pm
The team at Holyrood Distillery have been preparing to welcome back visitors to their courtyard - with a brand new tipple on offer
The team at Holyrood Distillery have been preparing to welcome back visitors to their courtyard - with a brand new tipple on offer

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The Capital is awash with fantastic things to do in the city for residents to discover - or rediscover - and local businesses are in need of support in order to thrive and survive after an unprecedented year of lockdown which has affected all of our lives.

Leith Depot is just one of thousands of well-loved establishments which are preparing to open their doors to welcome back familiar faces, and those who are looking to discover bits of their city they may not have visited before.

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Jill and Steve from Meander Apparel began as a local brand which popped up on George Street, now their store is a permanent fixture

Leith Depot owner Pete Mason said: “We’ve been doing loads of stuff here to get ready for reopening and welcoming people back, with new precautionary measures and making sure it is a safe environment for everyone to enjoy.

“Visitors can expect a wide range of non-alcoholic drinks, and a delicious full menu as we are serving lunch and dinner until 7pm.

“Everyone at Leith Depot is really excited to get back and see some familiar faces.”

An Edinburgh-based sustainable clothing brand which popped up on George Street last year is also preparing to reopen - this time as a permanent fixture.

The last time locals showed up to support Meander Apparel, the brand saw a 700 per cent increase in revenue versus the last financial year.

Following their initial pop-up store success trading alongside retail giants, including Lululemon, Helly Hanson and Sweaty Betty, the start-up brand has extended their lease to 2022 with a view to making the store a permanent home.

Jill Henry, co-founder of Meander said: “I couldn’t be more excited about the store opening on Monday and to welcome everyone back. Steve and I have been in store most days this week to get it ready and you can feel there is a buzz in the city centre with everyone preparing their stores and creating more outside space for customers to enjoy the outdoors.

“I’m from Edinburgh and have always loved shopping on George Street. To think that our clothing brand which launched a couple of years ago now has a permanent home on George Street is mind blowing. We were blown away by the amazing response that we got when we opened the pop up store last October and over Christmas and have taken the opportunity to extend our lease with a view to making the store our permanent home.”

Steve Henry, co-owner said: “We took the opportunity of being closed to give the store a complete refresh. We’ve installed a new coffee bar and seating area at the front of the store for customers to relax and check out our magazines and books. We very much want the Meander store to be a sociable place where the Meander community of outdoor lovers can meet up. In the summer when things open up a bit more we plan to host events, bike rides and take folk on tours of the Scottish hills. The store is going to be a great base for our community to get together and do all this stuff. It’s been way too long that we’ve not been able to explore beyond our backyard and we can’t wait to get back to normal, meet up and explore.”

One of the Capital’s most unique attractions, Edinburgh’s first single malt whisky distillery in nearly 100 years opened its doors in 2019, but has since faced nearly a year of lockdown restrictions.

It is set to reopen its unique distillery courtyard on Monday and give locals a taste of their latest celebration creation.

Visitors to the bar will be first in line to try new drinks from the distillery, including their latest release to celebrate the end of lockdown: HolyXXXX Gin, which was designed by distillery manager Marc Watson.

Alongside their own tipples, the bar will also support other local businesses emerging from lockdown by showcasing the best in independent brewing and distilling: including draught pints by Pilot, Barneys and Crossborders, gin from Electric Spirit Co and Port of Leith, and some of the best new whiskies from across Scotland.

Holyrood Distillery’s brand home manager, Debs Newman said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to reopen our courtyard as a sunny, safe and social space; for friends, families and neighbours to come together again.

“After a massively challenging year for everyone, and a particularly tough time for the hospitality industry, I know the distillery team will all be very emotional to see people back here again, enjoying the space, sipping our new gin, and supporting the other small distillers and brewers that we are showcasing.”

Council Leader Adam McVey said: “The sun is shining, there’s a good weather forecast for the weekend and we have much to be hopeful about. As we approach April 26, when Covid restrictions on many businesses will be eased for the first time since Boxing Day, cafes, restaurants, shops and gyms across the city will be making their final preparations. We’re doing everything we can to support them, whether that’s our licensing officers working to provide advice and guidance or with partners through our City’s Forever Edinburgh campaign, which is inspiring people to enjoy all the Capital has to offer.”

Depute Leader Cammy Day said: “Together we’ve endured an extremely difficult year, responding to changing restrictions and strict lockdowns which have been immensely challenging to our mental health and, for many, their financial situation. I want to take this opportunity to recognise the sacrifices and adjustments made by the many businesses across Edinburgh during this time, and to wish them well as they get ready to reopen on Monday.

“Thanks also to our residents, who have worked so hard to observe the guidance in place, helping to limit the spread – their efforts have been a crucial factor in our ability to gradually lift restrictions.

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