Plans for new bar and restaurant on Tufted Duck Hotel site
Public support is growing for plans to demolish the Tufted Duck Hotel in St Combs to make way for a new bar and restaurant.
The hotel closed last summer during the first Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, with the owners Lesley Anne and Conrad Ritchie indicating at that time they were looking at creating a bar and bistro on the site.
The couple have now applied for planning permission for the redevelopment of the existing hotel site.
The application seeks permission to demolish the existing 20-bedroom hotel – which has a function suite, conference facilities and restaurant – and replace it with a new restaurant building.
And although the plans only went live on Aberdeenshire Council’s website a few days ago, the application has already attracted numerous letters of support.
Comments posted include: “This will be a fantastic asset for the village and surrounding area, providing local employment and a place for locals and visitors to socialise and dine out. The plans look great.”
Another supporter states: “I think the new bar and restaurant would be a great addition to our village. It would create jobs and it would attract a lot of people to St Combs, whether it be just to visit or to move here. It would also encourage younger people looking to buy their first property like myself to stay within the village as well.”
And a further supporter says: “This is a brilliant proposal and I can't wait to see this happen. St Combs definitely needs this, it will bring so much positivity and support to our community.”
The plans, submitted under the name of the Ritchies’ company Quitie Ltd, feature a restaurant, bar, function room and lounge, as well as a beer garden, bistro restaurant and a small function area.
The Ritchies first revealed their intention to create a new bar and restaurant last summer when they decided to close the hotel.
Speaking at the time, Lesley Anne (pictured) said the hospitality industry in the North-east had been very challenging for the past six years and that Covid-19 was likely to take a further toll.
She said: “We’ve come to the conclusion that there will be more sustainable demand locally for a unique bar and bistro offering.
"The location has unrivalled, panoramic sea views and with a distinctive venue, serving quality local produce, we believe we can continue to support the local economy, meet local demand and employ local people.”
Conrad added: “Our family has always been committed to this business and we are very aware of our corporate social responsibilities. The closure of the Tufted Duck Hotel and Zanders Bar will be an unwelcome shock to the local community but, we believe, it is a necessary step to re-focus and invest in a sustainable future for the venue.
“Our aim is to use this period to build for the future and be up and running when life has returned to some sort of normality.
"We would like to thank all our customers for their support and look forward to returning as quickly as is possible.”