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New restaurant launches funding appeal

The team behind The String, from left to right: Matthew Adam, Magnus Stout, Akshay Borges and Neil Riddell. Photos: Chris Cope/Shetland News

A NEW restaurant, bar and venue in the heart of Lerwick which will draw on the talents of acclaimed local chef Akshay Borges has launched a crowdfunding campaign to secure funds to refurbish its premises.

The String – which is due to open this summer in the former Monterey Jack’s building – will bring together a range of local experience and expertise, while it will feature live music and entertainment upstairs.

Seafood champion Borges will run the kitchen alongside Matthew Adam, formerly of the Peerie Shop Cafe, while Magnus Stout – who has worked in Glasgow pubs and Mareel – will oversee the bar.

Neil Riddell of local music promoters Ragged Wood will look after a programme of cultural events on the second floor, which will include small-scale concerts featuring local and visiting artists alongside informal sessions.

Borges and Adam getting to work in the kitchen area.

The quartet say they want to give the building a “new look and operating ethos that is distinctive from other outlets currently available in Lerwick”.

The String team says its “food menus will place a strong emphasis on local produce including fresh seafood and a good choice of vegetarian and vegan options”, while there will also be a focus on craft beers, fine wine, spirits and artisan coffee.

An online crowdfunding campaign has been launched to allow people to pledge money towards refurbishment in return for perks like discounts and access to beer and spirit tastings.

A brand new kitchen is due to be installed, while the basement will be revamped into a storage and food preparation area.

The downstairs will be reworked to offer more space and there will be a bar located near to the door.

The upstairs area – complete with its own bar which has part of a piano integrated into it – will be refurbished to make it more suitable for live events, while it will also be used for special food tasting events and private bookings.

Borges said The String will use as much local produce as possible, with link ups with Transition Turriefield and Uradale Farm for example already in the pipeline.

“It will be a small menu dedicated to local produce,” he said.

“There will be seafood, and now it’s a bigger venue I can expand the menu to incorporate meat, vegetarian and vegan options.”

The String is leasing the premises from Ian and Janet Davidge of Westside Pine, who initially ran the successful Osla’s Cafe there, and the new team said it would represent a “clean break” from the eateries which have been run from the building more recently.

A work in progress...

Riddell – who said the venture is independent and self-funded – added that the team have been in contact with the local foodbank and the council about how it can help with food poverty in the isles, with one idea being for Borges to run classes on how to cook with minimal ingredients.

“We’re not a social enterprise, but I think we want to behave like one,” he said.

It will be the latest new venture to open on the street, following on from French cafe C’est La Vie, with The Dowry set to rise from the ashes of Beervana soon too.

“We’re all quite encouraged by how things are going with the rest of the street,” Riddell added.

“It’s all to everyone’s benefit. We want it to be an area that everyone wants to come to.”

Stout said that he felt the upstairs venue space would plug a gap in the market for smaller performance spaces.

“I suppose having live music as much as we can is important – this would be the only place on the street with a dedicated performance space.”

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