Former Rothesay cinema to be re-opened as new music venue, bar and recording studio

The soon to be opened Ritz venue in the building of the former cinema in Rothesay.
The soon to be opened Ritz venue in the building of the former cinema in Rothesay.

The former Ritz cinema in Rothesay is to re-open later this month as a music venue and bar with a function suite and a digital recording studio.

Keeping the name The Ritz, the venue’s owner Darren Fletcher hopes the 700 capacity venue will provide a boost to the island.

The soon to be opened Ritz venue in the building of the former cinema in Rothesay.

The soon to be opened Ritz venue in the building of the former cinema in Rothesay.

He said: “It has been in the making for quite a while now. This is going to be a function suite, bar, venue and recording studio.

“We are talking about a brewing house at some point, but we are not there yet. We plan to open the venue, bar and function suite at the end of November. The place holds 300 at the back, 300 at the front and 100 on the decking.

“There is a need for this place on Bute. This is a community base.

“We want to utilise the talent on the island. Rothesay doesn’t need another pub, but a hub that the community can afford to use.”

Darren hopes the Ritz will provide a welcome boost for people living on Bute.

He said: “There has been a lot of negativity on the island in the last few months for obvious reason. So it wasn’t the right time to open up. We thought it was too soon.

“The whole process has been going on for a while.

“The recording studio has been built for two years. That’s been getting used while we were getting the venue finished off. And we hope to have more people using the recording studio in the future.

“The more facilities on Bute the better.”

Darren also revealed that he hopes his new High Street venue will host special events for local people to enjoy.

He said: “There will be two day events held here, including craft beer weekends and hopefully music festivals.

“We are open to hosting all events. It’s an event venue.

“I just want this place to be beneficial for the island.”

The Ritz Cinema was opened in the 1930s. It had a 30 feet wide proscenium and a small stage.

After the end of World War 2, it was taken over by Caledonian Associated Cinemas chain. The Ritz Cinema was never equipped with CinemaScope, and closed on May 7, 1955 with Walt Disney’s True Life Adventure’s “The Living Desert”.

By 1980 it had been converted into the Ritz Roller Disco and this operated until at least 1986. It then became a disco, bar and nightclub. Part of the building was converted into apartments, and the remainder became a bingo club. In more recent years it operated as a restaurant and bar, which closed in 2008.