THE ISLAND community of Yell has received a double boost with the news that the owners of the Baltasound Hotel will reopen the Hilltop Bar and the Gutcher Café this month.
Brother and sister business partners Steve and Sharn Swan, who took over the Unst hotel back in 2008, decided to take on the defunct Hilltop, in Mid Yell, after increasing trade considerably at Baltasound.
After a complete refurbishment was carried out, the bar will reopen at 7pm on Friday, with the restaurant to follow in the next few weeks.
“In the restaurant [at Baltasound] we had many customers from Yell who bemoaned the lack of anywhere to eat on the island,” Steve Swan said.
“With this in mind, and thinking it was time for a new challenge, when we found that the Hilltop Bar was for sale it offered us the chance to satisfy both those needs.”
A new company, Yell-Oh Pub Co. Ltd., was created and the premises were reinsulated, plastered, wired and the bar servery was relocated to make it more customer friendly.
Swan said all of the furniture was bespoke, with lots of materials reclaimed, and he hopes to make the Hilltop “more female friendly”.
The restaurant will be based on “good old homemade pub grub” with a separate menu for those wishing to book meals for occasions such as birthdays anniversaries who “want something that little bit special”.
“Chatting to the plethora of people who keep popping in to see how we are getting on with the refurb, we believe it is an essential part of Yell life that is missing,” Swan said, “and we hope we can live up to people’s expectations and give them a social and focal point to be proud of.”
It will be managed by Darren Silver, a Shetland man who has recently returned home after serving in the Royal Navy.
To celebrate this Friday’s opening of the bar, which will have an “excellent range” of whiskies and possibly a monthly whisky club, there will be a complimentary buffet, promotional freebies and a raffle with the winner getting an exclusive five-course meal for two with a private chef and waiter.
Megan and Lauren, the duo whose Madison Violet song cover won them this year’s Shetland’s Got Talent competition last month, will give a short performance.
Meanwhile the Gutcher eatery, formerly known as the Wind Dog Café, has been renamed the Gutcher Goose Café in reference to the ever present wandering geese outside the premises.
It has been closed since November last year when its previous owners, who had only been in Shetland for around six months, returned home to England.
Swan said he took the opportunity to purchase a building which he had first tried to buy back in 2009.
It will reopen on Monday 19 May with Amie Thomson from Unst as the new manager.
He added that while the café had previously been run seasonally from April to October, the Swans have “some plans which should help extend it all year round”.