It was meant to be the start of something tasty.
But the renaissance of Reform Street as Dundee’s new foodie quarter appears to have hit a stumbling block in recent months.
After a period of decline, the road had enjoyed an upswing in trade and footfall in recent years.
New businesses, primarily restaurants and takeaways, have been steadily cropping up on the street following the opening of Project Pie in 2015.
However, the thoroughfare’s rejuvenation appears to have hit its “difficult second album” stage – and business owners feel Reform Street has stumbled.
Project Pie – latterly rebranded Project Pizza – closed without warning last month. Restaurant bosses claimed the closure was for maintenance but the unit is now up for let.
Menswear retailer Cooper and MacKenzie closed in January after owner Grant Mitchell retired, while pawnbroker the Money Shop, next to Project Pizza, shut after being acquired by Ramsdens.
Those stores join other long-term vacancies including the former Victoria Wine shop and Hynds Arcade.
Entrepreneur Akky Hayat, who runs the street’s German Doner Kebab (GDK) and Fatburger restaurants, says shops have been hurt by a hike in business rates in 2017.
The value of GDK’S unit went up by £2,000 under the rejig – pushing up non-domestic rates paid to Dundee City Council.
“The problem in Reform Street isn’t that businesses can’t get customers – the overheads are killing us,” he said.
“Rents can be negotiated but the rates are killing things. If anything goes wrong for any businesses here, it’ll be because of the rates.”
Another businessman said: “If Dundee had 250,000 people, you could do amazing things – but look at the lack of nightlife. It’s not Glasgow or Edinburgh.”
But Councillor Alan Ross, city development convener, is upbeat.
“I’m quite happy with the way Reform Street is going,” he said.
“I’m confident because when you see the things that have come in lately, Fatburger, GDK, Susushi, Dai Pai – these are things we haven’t had before.
“The High Street is changing and we have to adapt to these changes.”
One business owner bucking the trend is Lisa Shek, 34, owner of the newly opened Little Things Cafe.
She said: “It did seem for a while that the street was on the up but it appears to have stalled slightly in recent months.
“The street really has the potential to become a place where people come to eat and drink.
“The big question is how we get people to come here. It needs to be a joint effort between the council and businesses to make it work.
“Maybe having events along the street would attract people.”
Locals quizzed by the Tele largely believe the setback is a bump in the road.
Bus driver Scott Watson, 51, said: “It could be improved. They were revamping it but it seems to have stalled recently.”
Debbie McCafferty, 60, from Coldside, said: “I haven’t noticed anything really or seen a decline. There seems to be enough businesses here.”
Ferry resident Elspeth Walker, 59, said: “I’ve noticed in recent months it’s not been the same. A lot of places that are here seem to be shutting.”
William Carson, 53, said he had noticed “a few improvements”, but added: “It’s not really made much of a difference.”
And city centre hospitality worker Kasia Burdziak, 36, said: “I don’t think it’s too bad. There’s enough shops here for people.”