A LOCAL couple have expanded their Helensburgh business empire by buying a pub and restaurant in one of the town centre's most distinctive buildings – and they plan to open the doors later this week.

Cara and Milan Nikolic completed the purchase of the Logie Baird in James Street last week and aim to have it open for business by this Friday.

The couple, from Kilcreggan, already own and operate two restaurants in central Helensburgh – Cattle and Creel in John Street and La Barca in West Clyde Street – while a third, Riverbank, also in West Clyde Street, closed last weekend for refurbishment.

It is estimated that their purchase of the Logie Baird will take the couple's investment in the town to around £1.5 million – and once Riverbank is reopened, under a new name, later this year, they will employ around 70 full-time and part-time staff.

The previous operators of the Logie Baird – located in the Art Deco building which formerly housed the town's La Scala cinema – closed its doors on January 29 ahead of the building's sale to its new owners.

Cara said: “We heard last year that the Logie Baird was beomcing available and we were immediately excited at the prospect.

“We're delighted to be taking over such a distinctive Helensburgh building. It's an amazing space, with a lot of potential.

“We got the keys last Wednesday afternoon and have been working hard since then to get the interior ready. We hope to reopen by Friday.

“We've taken on a couple of former Logie Baird staff members and have moved some of the people who work with us at Riverbank now that those premises have closed for refurbishment.

“They'll be moving back to the Riverbank once it reopens in a few months. We currently employ around 60 full-time and part-time staff across our businesses and we're hoping to increase that to 70 by the end of the year.”

The building's history is told in detail by the Helensburgh Heritage and Helensburgh Heroes websites, which state that it opened as the La Scala cinema in 1913.

The La Scala was one of three picture houses in the town until 1968, when one of its rivals, the Tower in Colquhoun Square, closed in 1968 and was demolished.

The La Scala – the longest-established of the three – finally closed as a cinema in 1984, when it became an amusement arcade and later a snooker hall before closing for good in 1990.

It opened as the Logie Baird in 2007 after an £800,000 renovation by UK pub chain company Barracuda.

Helensburgh Central councillor Vivien Dance, who is also a director of the Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce, said: "This is a very good news story for the town and I am delighted that two of our most innovative business owners, Cara and Milan, have seized this opportunity to develop their range of eating experiences and show their continued confidence in Helensburgh. 

"Over the last few years Cara and Milan have worked alongside other restaurateurs and café owners to promote the town’s reputation as a place where good food is now to be found and I know this impresses both visitors and residents because the quality, style and range of food means this is the place to eat out with something to tempt all tastes and pockets.   

"Growing a business with a good reputation does not come easy and I know Cara and Milan have worked tirelessly to be where they are today.   

"I am sure everyone will join me in wishing them all the very best with their new venture and I trust this will be another success story for all concerned."