JK's cafe turns into Chinese diner
A FORMER Edinburgh cafe where the first Harry Potter book was famously penned is to be turned into an "all-you-can-eat" Chinese restaurant after being snapped up by a new owner.
JK Rowling spent hours scribbling early drafts of what was to become a worldwide best-seller in Nicolson’s while she was a struggling single mum.
But its owners have sold up to a Chinese restaurant boss completely unaware of the site’s literary connections .
Raymond Lui, who already has ventures in the Barnton area of Edinburgh and in Dunfermline, in Fife, admitted he only found out about the Nicolson Street establishment’s links with Harry Potter after securing the deal with the Sint Partnership, which had run Nicolson’s since 1995.
He says he was attracted to the site because of its proximity to Edinburgh University and what he saw as a lack of Chinese restaurants in the area.
Ms Rowling is said to have spent so much time in Nicolson’s, with her daughter Jessica sleeping in a pushchair, because she calculated it was cheaper to drink coffee there than to heat her Edinburgh flat.
The Evening News told yesterday how Britain’s highest paid woman, who now has luxury properties in Edinburgh and Aberfoyle, considered cafes like Nicolson’s the "ideal writing space" but had been forced to ban herself from them because of her fame.
Nicolson’s, which despite a make-over four years ago had retained its famous art deco windows, was put on the market in May 2001 with a 325,000 price tag but was withdrawn from sale by its owners just weeks later.
However, selling agents McGregor Chartered Surveyors said Mr Lui had come forward with an offer late last year which was accepted by the partners who ran Nicolson’s, including a brother-in-law of Ms Rowling, Roger Moore.
The partners are planning to roll out a chain of outlets under the brand name Black Medicine Coffee Company following the success of an initial outlet underneath Nicolson’s.
Simon Dorman, the agent who handled the sale, said: "There was a lot of interest when Nicolson’s was initially put up for sale but it was taken off the market because there was going to be a lot of work carried out on the exterior of the building and it was felt better to wait until that was finished. Although the work is yet to be carried out an off-market offer was made and the owners decided to sell up. The deal finally went through last Friday."
Mr Lui, who runs the Royal Dynasty, in Barnton, and the Empress in Dunfermline, said the new restaurant, to be called Buffet King, will open within four to six weeks.
"I’m planning a major refurbishment of the whole premises, including completely new decor. I want to modernise it and give it a trendier feel.
" It was the location of the restaurant that appealed because there aren’t many other Chinese restaurants in the area and a lot of students live nearby.
"I didn’t know anything about the Harry Potter connection until I’d agreed to buy the restaurant. The agents think I might get a lot of tourists coming in because of it."
Douglas McBride, one of the Nicolson’s partners, said: "We’ve ran Nicolson’s since 1995, so in a sense it’s quite sad, but we’re doing it to move the business forward."
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: East