End of an era for town as it mourns ‘pioneer’ Alan
FLAMBOYANT Oban entrepreneur Alan MacLeod, the inspiration behind the critically acclaimed Ee-usk restaurant, died last week, aged 73, after a short illness.
Alan MacLeod, who has been praised for his work as a seafood ‘pioneer’ and a passionate advocate for Oban - was also known to many as a wonderful family man who doted on his family and his pet dog, Bella.
People from all over Scotland, and further afield, were due to attend his funeral yesterday (Wednesday), in Eaglesham, East Renfrewshire.
Many will remember that around his table at either Eeusk or Piazza on the North Pier on most mornings, a collection of local worthies and businessowners would gather sorting out the world’s problems over a copy of the Racing Post, and on a Thursday, the Oban Times.
Many ideas took shape around the table - Oban Forward, a precursor to BID4Oban, advice to the newly formed board of Oban Phoenix Cinema, Oban Bay Marina and various other campaigns to improve the town and the quality of the facilities and amenities for both tourists and locals.
One of his more controversial ideas was to erect a giant sculpture of a fisherman throwing his net to the sea from the Pulpit Hill. It caused controversy in the town. His plan for the fisherman happened shortly before the idea for the Kelpies in Falkirk took solid form.
The successful mix of bringing sustainable seafood and fine drinks was a novel one in the late 1980s. It happened by accident. Alan and his wife, Sheila, wanted their first Argyll pub to be a little busier. As Glasgow pub owners, Alan and Sheila were used to a hectic lifestyle.
They had purchased the derelict pierhouse in Port Appin in 1987, but, despite a major refurbished in March 1988, Alan said trade was very quiet.
In a recent interview he explained: ‘We hadn’t expected to be run off our feet, but this was severe. We were losing money daily. It was Sheila’s idea to add fresh seafood to the menu.
‘The wee creel boat that landed just 20 metres from us had the most amazing catch of langoustine and squat lobsters.
‘We had already been serving some pub grub, but with Sheila’s addition of fresh seafood to the menu, business boomed.’
Between 1991 and 1993 the couple added 11 bedrooms to the pierhouse. They won awards, and were listed in the popular Egon Ronay guide and The Good Hotel Guide. Daughter, Julie, and son, Callum, joined their parents to work in the hotel in the early 1990s.
In 2001, the MacLeods opened Ee-usk, along with its sister restaurant, Piazza, on Oban’s North Pier, bringing iconic red roofs to the town.
The restaurants have had pride of place on Oban’s North Pier winning global recognition ever since.
Alan is survived by Sheila, Callum and Julie and four grandchildren.
RESTAURATEUR EXTRAORDINAIRE: Alan MacLeod