A Stonehaven resident whose award-winning Ballater restaurant was destroyed in the flood has vowed that it will re-open even better than before.
Chef Raj had just finished an unbelievably successful year with India on the Green, making history by becoming the first Indian restaurant nominated for the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards, and winning the Chef of the Year category for the UK-wide Asian Curry Awards.
But Raj closed up and went home the night before the flooding started, only to be woken up the next day by a phone call telling him there were boats outside its front door. He went in the next day to find his restaurant was three feet under water.
“When I went in to start cleaning up it was completely destroyed,” he said. “I saw the fridges and equipment floating past the tables and chairs.
“Now every time I walk through the door it’s just heart breaking. I spent two years building this restaurant up and just at its highest point, it’s been taken away from me.
“My staff are helping me clean up, though they don’t have to, but they’re nice people. And I’ll use my contacts to help get them new jobs and if worst comes to worst they’ll just stay at my house for a bit.”
The damage is in the tens of thousands, but Raj is already thinking about the future. He said: “The bottom line is that I want to get India on the Green back up and running as soon as possible. I want us to come back better than ever before.”
He received a hand-written letter of sympathy from Prince Charles and a bottle of slow gin, and is now planning a grand re-opening to which the Prince is openly invited.
Raj added: “Ultimately, it’s just my business that’s been affected. My heart and thoughts go out to all the people who have lost their homes.”