The Digby Chick restaurant on Bank Street - a key part of Stornoway life for two decades - is to close permanently. 

Owners James and Marianne Mackenzie said on their Facebook Page tonight (Wednesday July 1): "We have made the unavoidable decision to close Digby Chick restaurant permanently.

"We have not taken this decision lightly but the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has meant it is no longer financially viable for us to continue to operate, and after 20 years in business it is heart-breaking for us to close the doors on Digby Chick.

"The longevity of our success has been down to our loyal customers, the hard work and dedication of our incredible staff, thank you so very much."

Also, following comments on social media, they stated later: "We feel we need to comment regarding our landlord as there have been some negative comments. Just to clarify, our landlord did not charge us rent over the lockdown period and has been very supportive through this difficult time."

It was on March 20 that the restaurant closed its doors as lockdown began.

In November last year, the restaurant won another of its many accolades being awarded the prestigious Good Food Award for 2020.

Over the previous 12 months the restaurant at 5 Bank Street had been evaluated for customer feedback and the Good Food Award citation says: “These premises have demonstrated exceptional levels of food quality, service and value when compared to our industry benchmarks in their category.  Local chef and proprietor, James Mackenzie, uses the finest quality local produce to produce seasonally changing menus. Local fish and shellfish are a specialty of the restaurant with daily fish specials available with whatever has been landed that day.  The Outer Hebridean shores provide a diverse and superior larder; these are cooked with flair and originality. A wine list, sourced from around the world, complements the menu, with a whisky menu offering a selection of Scotland’s fine malts.”

This award was a continuation of plaudits down the years won by James and Marianne and their staff.  In an interview with former EVENTS newspaper writer Taylor Edgar in 2013, James looked back at progress since opening almost ten years earlier after almost two years of working from the former Seaforth Hotel, now the Caladh Inn.  “You don’t want to be doing the same things all the time, we need to push ourselves and not become repetitive. You need to change the menu and keep things fresh; you need to move with the times,” he said.

He told Taylor that sometimes when drafting menus, he would look back at bills of fare of a decade earlier and be amazed at the difference ten years can make.  But while tastes have definitely changed in the intervening period, the desire to push harder in the kitchen and “do that bit extra” shines through.  James pointed out a large part of the clientele all year round were local people.  As a consequence, Digby Chick did not have what would normally be recognised as quiet months, and even in January trade used to be brisk.

One of the core values of the Digby Chick team was to always treat customers in the way they themselves would expect to be treated when dining in a restaurant. And that meant ensuring guests had a good night out in a relaxed, casual atmosphere and not being stuffy.

Now this is gone. There was grief in their Facebook Page comments.

One said:"Always our favourite, can’t think of a time back home where we didn’t visit. Perfect combination of outstanding local food and  friendly and professional service. Big loss to Stornoway, thank you for the good times we had there!"

Another commented:"So sorry to hear this very sad news. My wife and I have enjoyed every single meal we've had. The great hospitality and, of course, the fantastic food.
Thank you for the happy memories … wish you the very best."