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ince our last issue there’s a new man at the helm at Tennent’s, Buzzworks have won a landmark legal case which could have implications for the issue of ‘over-provision’, and the Scottish Government has announced there will definitely be a Bill with regard to minimum pricing. So it has certainly not been a dull month! All of these stories have been addressed in this magazine. This issue we also have a particular focus on night clubs – Silk in Edinburgh, Bennets in Glasgow and the newest club to open in the West, Sugar Cube. I, meanwhile, caught up with Mike Grieve of the Sub Club, Europe’s second oldest club, and certainly the club which has the most longevity in the UK. And after an interesting day at the HIT Poet’s lunch it struck me that we haven’t touched food for a while, so this month we take a look at what’s happening in this arena too – from provenance to pricing.



See you next month.








16 20

Jason Caddy reports on the trend towards craft beer.

Susan Young takes a look at what’s happening on Scotland’s menus.

NO SUB-STITUTE Susan Young caught up with Mike Grieve, MD of the Sub Club.

DESIGN FOCUS We take a look at Silk, Edinburgh and Bennets and Sugar Cube in Glasgow.


05 25

NEWS The latest news from around the trade.

SUE SAYS Straight talking from our very own Editor.






Kenny & Colin Blair, Buzzworks



BUZZWORKS WIN LANDMARK CASE uzzworks have won a landmark case against South Ayrshire Licensing Board’s decision to grant a licence to JD Wetherspoon for its Prestwick pub. A judicial review has ruled the decision “was unlawful”, and as such the Edinburgh Court of Session has over-ruled the board’s decision to grant the licence suggesting that the board did not give “proper and adequate reasons” for granting the licence as well as failing to consider “overprovision.” That’s good news for Buzzworks the company behind the expensive legal action who petitioned the Court of Session for the judicial review of the Board’s November decision. Says Buzzworks Director Kenny Blair, “Of course we are pleased. We didn’t want to lose, but more importantly we wanted to safe guard the local licensed trade in Prestwick and we felt strongly that JD Wetherspoon’s plans constituted overprovision.” Council licensing chiefs had argued that the law stopped them from using ‘overprovision’, as a valid reason for refusal. In its defense it said, “The Board is required to grant an application unless there are grounds for refusal in accordance with section 23 of the Act. The Board…were of the view that the grant of this application would not be inconsistent with any of the licensing objectives. The Board was conscious that the existing policy statement acknowledged that the locality was 'well served' in relation to licensed premises. The Board had regard to the capacity figures for the proposed premises and existing premises, however, in the absence of any concerns on the part of the Board in relation to inconsistency with any of the licensing objectives, the Board was constrained by the terms of the recent Tesco decision in Aberdeen and accordingly could not refuse the application on grounds of over-provision.” However, Morag Wise QC suggested that the Tesco decision was flawed. She said, “If there was a common error at the time of the hearing in relation to the import of the Tesco decision… An error in law could still be founded upon. Further, it was submitted that there is a public interest in licensing matters and it would be wrong to allow a decision based on an error in law to stand.” The QC pointed out, “The use of the words "constrained" and "could not refuse" indicate that the Board felt compelled to ignore the factors relevant to overprovision rather than take a substantive decision on that ground. In essence, the Board considered that it had no power to refuse the application on grounds of overprovision because it had found that the application was not inconsistent with any of the licensing objectives. In my view, this constituted a clear error in approach in that overprovision ought to have been considered as a distinct ground regardless of the decision on consistency with the licensing objectives.” She also said in her written submission that the board, “ought to have been concerned about the size of the premises and its potential effect on competition, particularly where the issue of "cheap prices" was raised.” With reference to the board stating, “the grant of this application would not be inconsistent with any of the licensing objectives”, Wise QC said, “In my view there can be few clearer examples of a decision failing to set out proper and adequate reasons.”


She continued, “In this case there is no clue whatsoever as to what the Board considers to be the material considerations in dealing with the various objections narrated. The objections are not evaluated. There is no comment upon the important issues such as the effect of cheap food and alcohol, the narrow pavement outside the premises, parking problems, lack of police presence and burden on police, access issues for disabled and elderly persons, strain on emergency services, 'good neighbour' issues and attracting more people in the area. These were all among the matters raised in the context of inconsistency with the licensing objectives. No reasons are given as to how each of these issues were dealt with in reaching the decision. There is no mention of what influenced or impressed the Board, whether it was the report from the Chief Constable or a particular submission made on one or more of the topics listed above. Nothing in the relevant ¬

WKD PURPLE GOES PERMANENT he runaway success and popularity of WKD Purple – the first Limited Edition to be launched by the iconic, top-selling RTD brand - has led to Beverage Brands keeping the innovative new line on as a permanent fourth variant in the WKD range. From October 1 it will be added to the Blue, Red and Iron Brew line-up. Debs Carter, Marketing Director at Beverage Brands – brand owner of the WKD brand, says: “WKD Purple’s launch was aimed at delivering something innovative, new and exciting for consumers and generating incremental sales for licensees, the WKD brand and the RTD category, and it has succeeded in achieving all of these goals. “WKD Purple has exceeded expectations all round and demonstrates the power of WKD as brand leader in delivering


innovation to the £415.5 million ontrade RTD category. The sales performance and response from consumers have been extremely positive. ‘Keep WKD Purple’ campaigns have sprung up on Facebook and we have received lots of requests via the WKD Facebook page asking us to keep the line on. It’s the combination of sales performance and consumer demand which have driven our decision to make Purple part of the permanent WKD range.” Alongside the ongoing WKD marketing campaign, support for WKD Purple will continue via a digital and social media campaign, and also at pointof-purchase where Beverage Brands will continue to bring the campaign to life in pubs by providing point-of-sale kits via the WKD free point of sale hotline: 0800 917 3450. Sales enquiries




The Beattie family have just completed the refurbishment of The Minischant Inn in Ayrshire. The family, who bought over the Inn last year, had run the establishment as it was for a number of months, but says owner Mark Beattie, “After my son Ryan took over as chef, our food became very popular and needed more space for diners.” The new look Minischant no longer has a bar, but its dining area now accommodates 45 covers. Says Mark, “We are still overflowing.” Chef, Ryan, (pictured centre) formerly worked for Costley & Costley, and he is enjoying running his own establishment.

ALCOHOL CLAMPDOWN BY POLICE access to pastoral care from Street Pastors; lasgow publicans that serve drunk a point of reference for lost people; and customers will be targeted as part of a temporary accommodation for those who have new police and council initiative that will consumed too much alcohol and are in need of kick in on 1st October. It’s objective is to shelter. combat the city’s alcohol issues. The Test purchase operations – an increase in such measures were revealed earlier this month by operations in both off and on sales premises in Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of which underage people, under the supervision Glasgow City Council, and Strathclyde Police of the Alcohol Task Force, attempt to buy Chief Constable Stephen House. A Joint Action alcohol. And the setting up of a ‘New multiGroup on Alcohol established in June, looked at agency intelligence group’ to share information initiatives that could be implemented to tackle about problem premises, retailers or people. problems associated with underage drinking, Chief Constable Stephen House said, “This is binge drinking, problematic drinking and noisy not us going to war with the licensed trade. I or antisocial parties. The new measures are have said time and time again that the pubs the result. and clubs in this city are, in the main, well run, They also include a ‘Dedicated alcohol task Chief Constable Stephen House safe places to go. I am sure that the licensed force’ to carry out enforcement operations trade will welcome the measures that we are across the city, which will target rogue or Watson Kerr licensee at the announcing today. They will recognise that what problematic premises. Permission for a Chill Canny Man's bar in Edinburgh’s we are trying to do is work with those who act out hour – at selected premises between Morningside sadly passed away responsibly and punish those who don’t.” 0300 and 0400 on Fridays and Saturday earlier this month. His son A joint enforcement team will carry out a period nights where hot fast food and soft drinks can Tristan will take on the family of information sharing, training and warnings be sold to patrons in a quieter, calmer business, which is widely for the licensed trade in September 2011 atmosphere. Water can be provided, but no renowned as one of the city's before enforcement begins on October 1. alcohol. An ‘SOS Bus’ – a location for first aid; most eccentric pubs complete with a female mannequin on the ceiling. The late Mr Kerr caused Donald Trump has selected a 25 year old single malt from GlenDronnach Distillery to commemorate the official controversy in the 1990s when opening of his £750m Trump International Golf Links at Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire. The commemorative malt he banned Christmas parties, was hand-selected by Master Distiller Billy Walker from the thousands of top-quality single casks maturing at festive menus and seasonal GlenDronach’s warehouses at Forgue, near Huntly. hats. The trade has lost a true character.


SHORTS Glasgow based company the Restaurant Group Plc (RTN), owner of Frankie and Benny’s, Chiquito and Garfunkel’s eateries, have revealed a drop in first half profits of 34%. Net income in the 26 weeks to July 3 declined to £11.2m from £17m in the same period a year earlier. The company blamed rising costs. But CEO Andrew Page said, “Against a tough economic backdrop, ongoing cost pressures and with household incomes being squeezed hard, this performance demonstrates the resilience of the SEPTEMBER 11 DRAM


Restaurant Group’s business.” Diageo has revealed plans to invest £6m in a ‘state-of-the-art bioenergy plant at the Glenlossie distillery plant near Elgin. A planning application has been submitted to Moray Council. The Glenlossie bioenergy plant will use around 30,000 tonnes of draff per year, the by-product from around 12 million litres of Scotch whisky production. Dalhousie Castle remains up for sale with a £5m price tag, despite the majority of the other hotels in the failed von Essen Hotel estate finding new owners. Agents Christie

& Co can report that 19 out of 28 of von Essen Hotels are now under offer. Chris Day, Managing Director of Christie & Co says, “The hotels that have not yet received acceptable offers have been reduced in price and will be immediately re-launched to the market — this is quite typical in multiasset disposals such as this.” Royal Mile Whiskies has opened a new shop, called 'drinkmonger' in Pitlochry, with a second branch of the new brand set to open in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh next month. The new shops will



DREAM JOB FOR GILLIGAN ohn Gilligan, former Sales Director at Wm Morton has joined Tennent’s as Sales Managing Director. Steve Annand, who has been acting MD for the past six months, has been appointed Commercial Managing Director. John takes responsibility for all things sales related while Steve will be in charge of marketing, new product development and the commercial side of the business. Says John, “It’s a good fit.” It’s not the first time that John has worked with C&C bosses John Dinsmore and Stephen Glancey. Before joining Wm Morton, he spent 17 years with Scottish Brewers, with his last role being Director of Sales. John told DRAM, “I am really looking forward to working with Stephen and John again. They have a very clear vision and are totally focussed on what they want to achieve over the next three to


four years, and my CV fitted. I can help them achieve what they want to, and for me the timing was just right. I am delighted to be back in a part of the licensed trade business that I really understand. Tennent’s want to invest more in the Scottish licensed trade, and in order to do that you have to take some risks, and I’m not adverse to that.” He continues, “I thoroughly enjoyed my nine years with Wm Morton. It is a great family business, but I am now looking forward to re-acquainting myself not only with some familiar faces at Tennent’s but with licensees the length and breadth of Scotland. I intend to be out there catching up with people as soon as possible. This is a wonderful opportunity and I fully intend not just to grow Tennent’s but the whole portfolio. It’s definitely exciting, although I am sad to be leaving Wm Morton.”

First Minister Alec Salmond has announced, as widely predicted, a Bill on minimum pricing for alcohol to tackle what he described as “the scourge of alcoholism on Scottish society and families". The news came only a week after the NHS Alcohol Statistics Scotland 2011 report was published. Disappointingly the press coverage centred around the fact that Scots drink more than their English and Welsh counterparts, but failed to emphasise the positive news that litres of alcohol per person is falling, units per person is falling and the price has been increasing. For example alcohol per capita is down from 1192 units a year to 1185 and the average cost per unit in Scotland is now 75p compared to 71p the year before. Although the report talks about sales figures, which were made available from CGA/Nielsen, it didn’t unveil actual consumption figures – and the sales figures include all alcohol, including, our biggest export, whisky, which is bought by many tourists. Said one industry insider, “There is a positive story there, but the general feeling is that the powers that be want to play the positivity down, and will play it up after minimum pricing has been introduced, so that the general public believe that minimum pricing works.“

carry a full range of whisky and other spirits, and also a large wine range. Pernod Ricard has reported sales up 7% and profit from recurring operations up 8% to €1,909. It revealed it had strengthened its market positions, particularly in emerging markets, which returned to very strong growth as it continued to implement its strategy of innovation and premiumisation, due to substantial, targeted investment. The company said it had exceeded its financial targets.

SPI Group has announced the appointment of Robert (Rob) Cullins as Global Commercial Director. He will be responsible for the commercial development of the SPI portfolio, with strong focus on Stolichnaya Premium Vodka. Punch Taverns and Spirit, the recently de-merged businesses, have just published trading statements with Punch revealing that income dropped 5.2% in the 52 weeks to 20 August, with a 5% fall in fourth-quarter income alone. The news was better for Spirit which revealed strong

continued from page 5. authorities supports the contention that it is sufficient for a decision-maker in this context simply to say it has had regard to all the submissions and evidence before it without, even in summary form, commenting upon those submissions and their relative merits.” Licensing lawyer Janet Hood comments, “Sanity finally prevails. Let’s hope we have more decisions like this to negate the harm being visited on the trade by this overly bureaucratic and complex legislation.” However Kenny Blair says the matter is probably still far from being resolved, with the chance that there will be an appeal by JD Wetherspoons. Whatever the outcome it now looks unlikely that there will be a JD Wetherspoons in Prestwick before 2014, and going forward Boards across the country will have to take account of this decision by the QC, which effectively negates the Tesco case being used as a defence for not considering ‘overprovision.’

sales in the fourth quarter keeping the company on track to meet full-year expectations. Food sales rose by 7.9% in the period, driven by innovation and investment in brands, while sales of drinks increased by 1.2%. From 1 October licensees can sell draught beer and cider of 1/3 pint,1/2 pint, 2/3 pint or multiples of 1/2 pints; while specified quantities will no longer apply to servings of wine below 75ml. This will allow licensees to sell small glasses of wine as samples. DRAM SEPTEMBER 11



Italian restaurant chain Pesto opened its first Scottish outlet on Glasgow’s St. Vincent Street this month. The group, Pesto Restaurants, already runs three other restaurants of the same name, two in Manchester and one in Liverpool. DRAM attempted to get a quote from the management but they were a little cagey about releasing any information.


he Ardeonaig Hotel at Loch Tay has just re-opened after being bought over by The Adamo Hotel Group, owned by Euan Snowie. The hotel, which closed last October, after going into administration, was up for sale for offers over £1m. The former 16th-century inn, previously owned by South African born Pete Gottgens, who reputedly spent £2m refurbishing the property, has 25 bedrooms all with en suite bedrooms, a contemporary restaurant, five individual thatched Shieling lodges and two cottage suites. Euan Snowie, Director of the company who has taken the property into his personal portfolio said, “I quite simply loved the property and the opportunity


to acquire the Ardeonaig was irresistible. On a commercial basis, the decision was based on the hotel’s fine reputation and we see it as an outstanding opportunity to add another quality hotel to our portfolio.” The Ardeonaig management team, headed up by Rodney Doig, Adamo’s Director of Operations, includes Ross Miller who has been appointed as head chef. He previously worked with The Champany Inn and Martin Wishart and prior to that with the Michelin rated Roux brothers at La Gavroche. While James Payne has joined Ardeonaig in charge of hotel operations. He joins from Skye’s Three Chimneys. The latest addition to the Adamo portfolio is likely to become its flagship hotel.

CARMELITE EXPANDS IN SCOTLAND Carmelite Aberdeen Ltd will open its first hotel on Glasgow’s Oswald Street by 2014. Managing director Gary Atkinson told DRAM, “We have acquired a property on Oswald Street, round the corner from the Radisson Blu, and we have planning consent for an 86-room boutique hotel which will be open in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2014.” The company has also just announced the latest phase of its continued refurbishment of its Carmelite Hotel in Aberdeen’s Merchant Quarter. The latest redevelopment follows the upgrading of the ground-floor facilities, a new lift, and the conversion of bedrooms on the first floor to six uniquely designed suites and 12 SEPTEMBER 11 DRAM


designer rooms. The second phase, on which work has recently begun, involves the upgrading of the second floor bedrooms, refurbishment of the whole roof and in total, 237 sash and case windows throughout the building. The next phase will involve an upgrade of the ground floor 64-seater restaurant, champagne lounge bar and conference/ function room facilities. Work is scheduled to begin after completion of the second-floor refurbishment. The total investment in the past five years equates to just over £3m, £2.8m of which came from the Green Townscape Heritage initiative – a partnership between the Heritage Lottery Fund, Aberdeen City Council, Historic Scotland and Scottish Enterprise.

The Glenerrol Development Company, owned by tycoon James Mortimer, has submitted plans to Glasgow City council to create a 100-bedroom hotel in a courtyard behind Royal Exchange Square. Plans lodged include shops, bars, a restaurant and a casino at the site. Architecture firm Nord have been appointed to the project and Nord partner Alan Pert has presented it to the Glasgow Urban Design panel, which advises the city council on controversial planning applications. He told them that the proposals will replace "dark and dingy" courtyards currently used for refuse collection and parking. Meanwhile Lynnet Leisure recently had its licence suspended for a month at Karbon nightclub. When it reopens it will have a 21 and over restriction. Fergus McVicar, owner of Chinaski’s on Glasgow’s North Street, will shortly open a late night bar-club next door. It will be called the Berkeley Suite, and will host a cocktail bar on the ground floor and a club in the basement. It was formerly an old 1940s ballroom. The Royal Bank of Scotland has sold the Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor Hotel to a private investor in a deal worth around £10m. It marks the tenth Hilton sold by RBS in recent years. RBS bought 11 Hiltons in 2001, but after the financial crisis it announced plans to sell the hotels. It has only one Glasgow Hiltonbranded hotel still to sell. Italian restaurant chain Prezzo has opened its second Edinburgh restaurant on North Bridge. Area manager Milijana Trifunovic told DRAM, “We have spent £650K on the refurbishment of the former Cult Clothing shop site. Inside, the design is fresh and contemporary, with 150 covers. The restaurant also commands stunning views across the city.” The Prezzo Group also owns and operates another five Scottish restaurants: Pier Place in Edinburgh, three in Glasgow and one in Aberdeen. The Southern Bar in Edinburgh has been told by the licensing board that he can no longer play any music following complaints from local residents, despite spending £10K on soundproofing. Board Members heard that police and the council's licensing standards officers (LSOs) had been called to investigate neighbours' complaints on several occasions.



JASON CADDY DUSTS OFF THE DRAM FILE MARKED ‘BEERS’ AND TAKES A LOOK AT THE IMPACT OF CRAFT BEERS ON THE MARKET. decade ago Madonna no less was routinely snapped, pint of Timothy Taylor in hand, and the world braced itself for a cask ale revival. But even the Mistress of Reinvention couldn’t mesmerise the masses into abandoning lager, leaving Real Ale stuck with the stuffy, beerbellied, purist image that had dogged it for aeons. But there’s a new and exciting weave of interest in the category and, although from a relatively small base, the cask/craft beer market in Scotland is growing by a mightily impressive 31%, says the Cask Ale Report 2010/11. Cask accounted for 12.4% of the total on-trade beer category in the UK in 2009, up 11.6% in 2008. It would be too easy to lay the credit for this at the door of Scotland’s headline-grabbing Brewdog chain. It fancies itself as a bit of a David throwing down the gauntlet to CAMRA’s Goliath, and whether this is just a lot of hype is frankly irrelevant. What does matter is that it’s further stimulated discussion in Cask, as the category continues to excite the interest of a hell of a lot of drinkers who hitherto would rather have licked flies off a number plate than sample a Real Ale. The Brewdog ‘brand attitude’ has borrowed much from its American ancestors – the breweries across the West Coast which make up much of the richly diverse American beer market. When America sneezes it’s not long before we in the UK catch the cold, and we here in Scotland have already got the sniffles. Yet there still seems to be some confusion, even among real ale aficionados,




as to the differences between cask and craft. Most people I spoke to agree it’s one and the same, and whether one is a subset of the other or vice versa, is neither here nor there. Both have common interests, that of heritage, provenance and a niche quality. Although what definitely sets craft apart, and give it an edge in the current climate, is its maverick quality. You wouldn’t get a Cask called ‘Arrogant Bastard’ but this craft beer does exist. This undoubtedly appeals to the Jackass Generation - the Channel Four American TV import that encouraged extreme and daredevil stunts. It was full of surfer dudes, all in good shape, yet session drinkers at the same time, and there were beards, but a distinct lack of beer bellies. A world away from the traditional CAMRA devotee. They also took seriously the threat to climate change, and the ethical implications of global brands, concentrating on a back to basics approach. The Report stresses, “Like it or not, image is everything. Cask ale and cask ale drinkers have traditionally been painted in a less than flattering light by the mainstream media, as old men in flat caps, or bearded eccentrics with questionable dress sense. These things matter: image conscious younger drinkers could be put off if they think drinking cask ale would make others associate them with these stereotypes. But every bit of evidence suggests that in the real world, these stereotypes have simply faded away” The most dramatic difference to the world now compared to ten years ago is the rise of social media. The likes of Facebook and Twitter have played their part in spreading the word. The report says the impact on cask ale has already been huge, with ‘Wine and Beer’ blogs allowing people to kick about ideas, talk up new products and compare tasting notes. More significantly, much of this activity happens in real time with 37% of people accessing the internet via their mobile phone. The global recession is the other notable difference, with 27% of Britons saying that they are more likely to buy British since the

recession. It says, “Anything that describes itself as ‘craft’ is booming: baking, bread making, knitting, paper craft and cooking are all prospering. The global boom in craft brewing is part of this trend towards simple quality, away from massmarket standardization.” What has been carved out is an environment where innovation has been encouraged to flourish. Frank Murphy of the Clockwork Beer Company in Glasgow, a pub and a small brewery, is keen to point out that established microbreweries in Scotland have been influenced, even indirectly, by what has been happening across the Pond. He says, “Glasgow’s first Beer Week, which happened over the summer, drummed up a lot of interest from both young and old. We tried a couple of new riffs on our regular beers that we named Herb Garden. For example, adding vanilla pods to stout and lemongrass to Amber. It was great to get the feedback that we did and I sit on the Beer and Brewing Committee for the Scottish Parliament, and we are lobbying to have the festival in other Scottish cities, too.” Paul McDonagh, owner of Glasgow’s Bon Accord sells gallons of the stuff and is quick to highlight some of the best Scotland has to offer. “There’s a real buzz about the cask ale in Scotland right now. I’d say that the top four breweries are Fine Ales, The Houston Beer Co. which has just won a Gold at the Great Britain Beer Festival for Peters Well, Inveralmond in Perthshire and The Highland Brewery in Orkney.” Licensees are also reporting that customers from different walks of life are showing more of an interest in the category. And there’s a lot to be said for having a point of difference. “We are a real ale pub but Black Isle organic lager is doing really well,” says Lauren O’Loan from Edinburgh’s Blue Blazer. “It’s not just fizzy and wet. It

has a lot more flavour and people come in especially for it. Tourists also love it because it’s organic and Scottish, and there are a lot more women drinking it too.” I could talk about craft until the cows come home but we do have to look at what else is happening in the beer market, beginning with new brands launched across the category. Red Nectar is from this month now available in Wetherspoon pubs across the country. The awardwinning beer, brewed in California, is a bit of a coup, in that this is the first time the beer has been available in the UK. Molson Coors has launched a beer squarely aimed at the female market called ‘Animee’, which launched last month. The brewer hopes that the lavish marketing and the fact that it has a low ABV will mean that it will eschew the laddish image that seems to follow beer around. Will this work? Perhaps it will ride the crest of this wave and succeed where Madonna failed. Summer Creek from the Copper Dragon Brewery in Yorkshire will be available to stock in Scotland’s bars at the beginning of next month. It follows hot on the heels of limited edition ales Ozwat and Conqueror. The other big news is that Belhaven has also launched its first new permanent cask ale in a while, Belhaven IPA. Belhaven’s Head Brewer George Howell says, “Consumers are buying in to the fresh, natural and crafted nature of cask ale. As cask is one thing drinkers cannot get at home, it gives the pub an excellent way to attract more people down to their local.” DRAM SEPTEMBER 11


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FOR PROVENANCE READ QUALITY SINCE THE SMOKING BAN, FOOD HAS BECOME SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT TO THE LICENSED TRADE — BUT WITH M&S DOING A MEAL FOR TWO, PLUS WINE FOR A TENNER, AND OTHER SUPERMARKETS FOLLOWING SUIT, HOW CAN THE RESTAURATEUR OR PUBLICAN COMPETE? SUSAN YOUNG REPORTS. ood-led pubs and restaurateurs are in a conundrum – how do Sandy Fraser of the Oak Tree Inn, which boasts its own market you keep your margins and still offer value for money and garden at Balmaha comments, “Many more customers are quality? With food inflation running as high as 20% on some curious about where the food on their plate is coming from, many items, it’s never been more important to get your menu and more will travel for quality, and we have worked hard in the last few offering right. Especially since, in the short term anyway, prices are years to set the bar high. I’m not suggesting for one minute that only going to go one way, although some people feel that prices will we are supplying all the food needed for the Oak Tree, but it’s a level out by the end of the year. But the rising price of food has significant share, and growing. There is now a huge awareness of emphasised an area that could be improved, and that is provenance, and especially in these hard times. Customers are relationships with suppliers. coming out less, so when they do venture Restaurateurs and chefs are a step ahead out they’re demanding more choice and when it comes to having a relationship quality. I don’t want to be one of the with their food suppliers, while licensees casualties of this, and so far so good, as appear to have better relationships with my turnover is already up on last year.” their drink suppliers rather than their food In fact, when you look at restaurant reviews suppliers. When it comes to food from critics and from others using licensees tend to deal with suppliers on a websites such as Urban Spoon and ‘needs must’ basis, and often they leave all Tripadvisor, the number of people who write the decisions to the chef. This is often the positively about restaurants and pubs that easiest route, but not necessarily the way use locally sourced food, is growing. forward when it comes to keeping your Provenance is becoming a by-word for bottom line healthy. ‘quality’ and it is a global trend. Keeping abreast of trends, embracing Research undertaken by Scottish seasonability, and keeping your menu Enterprise indicates that visitors prefer to tight, can make all the difference. And buy food and drink with local provenance. Chefs are not always known for keeping They want to know where, when, how and their eye on the bottom line. Their job is to by whom it was produced. Research also produce good food that sells well and shows that it can affect your bottom line hopefully has a 70% + GP. positively if you buy local. On average, Certainly chefs definitely have their work customers could spend nearly £1 more on SANDY FRASER food and drink at your business if authentic cut out, but one thing seems to be the THE OAK TREE INN local and Scottish produce is offered. This saving grace, and that is provenance. Every chef worth their salt is looking for could add up to an increase of an average fresh ideas, and local produce seems to be the answer. Despite 20% more per year. these recessionary times it seems that customers want to eat Most good chefs know this, but sometimes in an effort to locally sourced produce, they want to support their local maximise their food GP, some resort to using imported goods economies and they are prepared to pay a bit more. And that can because they presume that buying local costs more. That may be only be a good thing. Customers are not looking for cheap food the case, however that also comes down to effective negotiating they are looking for value for money and that is a completely with food suppliers. And although it may cost more, you can also different thing. charge more. In fact a survey carried out by the University of People get passionate about provenance - that feel good factor Reading revealed that consumers were prepared to pay a premium about knowing exactly where the meat, fish and vegetables come for locally produced food over imports. Its sample of 222 people from that end up on your dinner plate. were asked for their views on topics such as origin, organics, Ronnie Clydesdale, who passed away last year, was one of the first price, freshness, food miles and support for local businesses. chefs to recognise this, and he built up his restaurant The Principal investigator Professor Bruce Traill says, "Consumers Ubiquitous Chip through this very practice – he put Scotland on a think of local food as being produced and sold within a 30-50 mile plate, and his restaurant was renowned the world over. Thirty radius.” years on his legacy is that chefs around the country are following Provenance is the general term, but another familiar term used in suit. conjunction, which is familiar to restaurateurs and chefs is ‘food




FOR PROVENANCE READ QUALITY miles’, it’s not a term I’ve ever heard a publican mention. This is of emerging trends.” the distance from where the food is produced to the plate. And When you are watching your costs one of the key things to do is obviously from the research, consumers are conscious of food consider seasonality when preparing menus. Says Alastair Roy, miles. Green issues are becoming more important and the “Seasonality is also important. You always pay more for items that licensed trade can do their own bit for the planet by buying from are not in season. And if they are imported you are obviously local suppliers. paying for the food miles. For instance if you have asparagus on George Dickson of Reids Food Services comments, “People are the menu at Christmas – you are obviously paying a premium certainly looking for and expecting to see products that have been because it is out of season.” locally-sourced. For instance we are the main supplier of the Advice from ‘Experience Scotland’ is the same. It suggests, “Think Lockerbie range of butter and cheeses and there has been a sharp seasonal – take advantage of the changing larder to drive margin increase in orders for this product. I and variety, eg. Spring greens, think that a good supplier has to summer fruits, autumn harvest and react to market conditions, winter roots.” especially nowadays when licensees However Alastair also suggests fixing are being squeezed. We are a low prices. He says, “The price of food is cost operation and this is reflected driven by the market, but for instance Dornoch Lamb, in our pricing structure.” you could fix your meat prices for Pentland Firth Cod, If you look at the websites of wellthree months with your butcher. He Brackla pork, known restaurants and speak to will also advise of different cuts of chefs they are more than happy to meat, which could be more cost Orkney Beef, talk about the suppliers and the effective. That’s why lamb shanks St Brides Poultry & Game from quality of the produce that is came back on the menu. They went Pittenween, supplied. The same names often from being popular with dog owners come up again and again… Simon to being fashionable again because Oysters from Cumbrae, Howie, Rodgers and Campbell’s butchers suggested that their clients Scallops come from the Prime Meat, fish and seafood from re-examined it.” Sound of Kilbrannan companies such as MacCallums, He continues, “Using imported meat and the Fish People as well as Andy may be cheaper, but if you want to Race in Mallaig and many others, project your green credentials, and while Mark Murphy is renowned for make a name for yourself, it is better the quality of his fruit and veg. There are also a host of other good to use Scottish lamb and beef. And by using different cuts, not only butchers, seafood suppliers and fruit and veg suppliers around the can you maximise your GP, you can also introduce customers to new country, who can offer a service that you just don’t get from the cuts, for instance you are now seeing ‘skirt of beef’ on menus now.” local cash and carry. There are plenty of other local suppliers who Some restaurateurs have gone a step further than just provenance specialise in everything from berries to potatoes and forming a they are also looking to be ‘sustainable’. And the number one relationship with local suppliers, if you don’t already have one, restaurant for sustainability in the UK, according to fish2fork, is should be priority. The Captain's Galley at Scrabster. The Galley's ethical policy, part Alastair Roy, a former buyer for Apex Hotels and prior to that of its overall environmental policy, determines that whenever Stakis comments, “If you build up a good rapport with your possible all the produce is sourced within a 50-mile radius of the suppliers they will share information on what is coming in at a good restaurant. All the seafood must be in season, and a non-pressure price, and you can also arrange to buy, for instance, fruit and veg stock species, caught in sea areas of Scotland where the stocks that is less than perfect, for soup and some other dishes. A good are sustainable. The restaurant says, “This policy is primarily to relationship means that you get in first.” serve food of the highest quality that is fresh, in season and local. Chefs generally agree. Said one, “I firmly believe that chefs should Our menu changes every day after we have studied what is the listen to their suppliers. Advice on certain cuts of meat, curing freshest and best quality available, either direct from boats or on times, game seasons and pricing are all part of our regular the fish market.” conversations.” Fish2fork says of owner Jim Cowie, “He is widely recognised as one Malcolm Binnie of Townhouse Restaurants comments, “Customers of the top experts on sustainable seafood with a number of are looking for a value offering, but that doesn’t mean that the Michelin-starred chefs coming to him for advice. product should be compromised. We source food locally and buy The Am Birlinn on Mull is also well thought of as is Ondine in Scottish meat as much as we can and shift high volumes of it, Edinburgh, Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles and the Seafood although we utilise cheaper cuts as well. We work closely with our Restaurant at St Monan’s and St Andrews, and Glasgow’s Gamba. suppliers and this is important for both pricing and staying on top In fact since Derek Marshall became chef/proprietor, Gamba has

Provenance examples



SOME WELLRESPECTED SCOTTISH SUPPLIERS become the first Glasgow restaurant to join the Sustainable Restaurant Association. He told DRAM, “The Gamba menu is based around sustainability, so in a way we are throwing this in the customer’s face and educating them. We have Icelandic cod because Iceland is more sustainable than Barra, for instance, and hand-dived scallops over trawled. The more environmentally aware the customer the more interest they have in ethics and where the food is coming from, but the majority of customers aren’t really that curious about where the fish is caught.” Says Alastair, “Everyone is becoming more aware of green issues, whether that is food miles or sustainability or carbon reductions. One way licensees could embrace this would be to organise composite deliveries from their suppliers. The fewer vehicles that deliver the better. This is ideal for publicans because it would mean fewer interruptions. Suppliers could be persuaded to link up. There is no reason why the people delivering, as long as they have refrigerated lorries, couldn’t be supplying your butcher meat, dry goods, spirits and chemicals. Obviously, the more people asking their suppliers to partner up, the more chance that they will do it. Again it’s all back to having a good relationship with suppliers.” Jim Rowan of Dunns Food and Drinks agrees. In fact not only does DF&D supply spirits and soft drinks, but through its sister company Duncans, it also supplies a range of dry goods, frozen and chilled foods, and is set to launch a range of some 300 new products ranging from black pudding to cheese. He says, “Our new ‘Best of’ range, which offers the best products on offer in Scotland, is designed to give chefs a greater choice. Our new range comes from Scottish-based companies, who are local to specific areas. We have the distribution to give them a wider audience, and as more and more customers like the feeling of keeping it local, and keeping and spending their money in the local economy, it’s a service which we feel will help restaurateurs and chefs keep their menus interesting.” He continues, “Special boards are making a comeback and our customers can now put, for example, the 2011 World Champion Steak Pie – a Gold Medal winning Steak Pie from Ft William, on their menus.” He advises chefs, “Don’t sacrifice quality. Good plate coverage, quality products and good service are all seen to add value. Poor quality masquerading as value doesn’t work long term. You want customers to come back and come back again. They will do this if they feel that they have had a quality experience.” Alastair concludes, “It’s important not to compromise on quality when trying to maintain costs. There are simple, effective ways to maximise cost savings – cut the size of your menu; if you regularly change the menu apply a ‘just in time’ strategy for buying; if you want to keep you menu in situ for three months or more, fix your prices with suppliers – this allows you to know what your GP is. Work with your suppliers, use their knowledge.” (Legislation which came into practice in August means that restaurants and hotels will no longer be supplied live dived scallops, now they will all have to be shucked prior to sale.)

Perth-based Simon Howie, supplies the likes of The Ubiquitous Chip, Gleneagles and Ballathie House. Simon Howie insists that meat is sourced from members of the Guild of Scotch Quality Meat Suppliers who operate a rigid code of assurance. Specification also includes the Specially Selected Scotch Beef label, the mark of assurance for quality, tenderness and taste – and the same applies to the Specially Selected Scotch Lamb label. Glasgow and Clydebank butcher Rodgers, supplies Duck Bay Hotel at Loch Lomond and the Sarti chain of Italian restaurants as well as The Butchershop, Glasgow. Its meat all comes from a 40-radius of Glasgow. Campbell’s Prime Meats is a family run company, now based in Linlithgow, which supplies a range of fresh meat and fish to pubs, restaurants and hotels. Customers include Martin Wishart and the Lake of Monteith Hotel and Waterfront Lakeside Restaurant. Hendersons, Glenrothes, a small family butcher in Fife which supplies meat and produce such as Rabbit and Haggis. It supplies the Wee Restaurant, North Queensferry MacCallums Fishmongers supplies the likes of The Ubiquitous Chip and Guy’s Restaurant. It is one of Scotland’s best known suppliers to the licensed trade. Bernard Corrigan has been supplying fish and poultry to restaurants, pubs and hotels since 1949. The Fish People, Glasgow based, supplies a variety of fish from haddock and cod to the more unusual such as John Dory and Sea Bream. It supplies Gamba, .. Armstrong's of Edinburgh is very popular with restaurateurs in Scotland’s capital. It has been supplying fish and seafood for the past 50 years. It supplies the likes of The Scotsman Hotel. Flying Fish a small Tarbert based company supplies the Hotel du Vin and others. Andy Race, Fishmongers in Mallaig, has been supplying seafood to top hotels and restaurants for more than 20 years. And the company is organic certified. Clients include Inverlochy Castle. Edinburgh based Mark Murphy and Partner Ltd was established in premium quality fruit and vegetables, dairy products and fine foods to many of Scotland's top restaurants and hotels. Scotherbs are major growers and suppliers of fresh culinary herbs. Based in Dundee, they are one of the largest suppliers to the industry in Scotland. Strathspey Mushrooms Ltd supply wild mushrooms and truffles to restaurants and hotels throughout Scotland. The Aviemore based company also supplies delicatessen items such as dried meats and oils. Inverawe Smokehouse supplies The Scotsman Hotel, and many other places throughout Scotland. Pietro’s Deli in the east end of Glasgow supplies hand made Italian sausages to Tony Macaroni and Cafe Gandolfi. DRAM SEPTEMBER 11




NO SUB-STITUTE THE SUB CLUB IS THE LONGEST RUNNING CLUB IN SCOTLAND, IN FACT IT’S THE SECOND LONGEST RUNNING CLUB IN EUROPE. SUSAN YOUNG CAUGHT UP WITH MD MIKE GRIEVE TO FIND OUT THE SECRET OF ITS SUCCESS. lasgow’s Sub Club is legendary, it may have opened on April Fool’s Day 1987, but its success is no joke. This basement club, originally owned by Greg McLeod, was subsequently sold to the McCrimmon family, who appointed current MD Mike Grieve as Manager in 1994. Since then World renowned DJs have played at the club, its Subculture, Optimo and Slam nights have received critical acclaim (Subculture has been running non stop for 17 years making it longest weekly residency in the world!), the club has released its own CDs, weathered a three-year closure following a fire, and has taken the Sub Club to festivals and venues as diverse as the Campsie Hills and a barge on the Seine, and it has changed ownership again. Today, it is owned by Mike and business partner Paul Crawford who did a management buyout in 2002. The newest addition to the team, Barry Price, joined as a partner three years ago. It now has three partners, all of whom represent a different musical decade. Mike explains, “There are ten years between myself and Paul, and Barry is a decade younger again.” He continues, “The difference in ages allows us to keep the Sub Club relevant. It has always been at the cutting edge of dance music and that’s important to us. We’ve always promoted new music, in fact record companies seek us out to get our DJs to play it.” This is why he finds the recent news that PPL’s consultation is proposing massive price hikes, galling. He says, “I can’t understand what PPL are thinking about. If they put the prices up from 2 to 3% of turnover to 20% of turnover, which is what they are proposing, it would shut everywhere. It would spell the death knell for music venues. Is someone there not reading the newspapers, this industry is finding it tough as it is!” Music has always been Mike’s passion. He started out DJing, moved to Aberdeen in the early 80s, and spent 11 years there, before returning to Glasgow. Says Mike, “Even then I was constantly seeking out records to play that were offering something different.” This led to his first foray into into the club scene with The Bang Club in 1985 and subsequently ground breaking house music venue 'Fever' in 1989. In between this Mike and partners started ‘Acid Jaxx’,


Scotland’s first dedicated acid house club in 1987. All three venues weren’t in the central belt, where the majority of the clubs were but were in Aberdeen. Mike comments, “Fever was a legend in its own lunchtime. “Its mix of Acid House and underground dance music, hit a chord. Says Mike, “The summer of ’89 changed the clubbing scene forever as Acid House really took off. Initially it got a bad press, but today, more than 20 years on, it is still as prominent. The main change is that clubbers that weren't born in 89 see house and dance music as the norm and not radical at all. It has evolved from being underground to being mainstream.” When Mike came back to Glasgow in 1993 he initially worked with Colin Barr at the Living Room in Byres Road, before joining the Sub Club in 1994 as Manager. He says, “I think the then manager Brian Mullen recommended me for the job. But I definitely didn’t think I would still be there 18 years on!” By 1994 the club was seven years old – its reputation had been cemented with the likes of DJs such as Yogi Haughton, Nick Peacock and Harri having regular nights. In 1989, the first outside promoters to get involved in the Sub Club, started Joy on Fridays. And by 1990, the City of Culture and a 5am licence, helped the clubs Saturday residency, achieve legendary status as one of the most hedonistic nights the city had to offer. By the time Mike came along in 1994 the outside promoters began a new Friday night at The Arches and Mike had to concentrate on building Saturdays again and he did this by bringing in DJs from the US. Four years later, as Paul and Mike finally began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The club had found its feet, it had been refurbished, and, says Mike, “We thought it was really getting to where it should be. Our Optimo night was doing well and our Fridays and Saturdays were really busy. We had developed our international profile, brought out a couple of CDs, and there was a real buzz about the club. We were enjoying the success… and the Millennium was coming up.” Then calamity struck. In November 1999 a huge fire destroyed a building adjacent to the club, forcing it to close. Says Mike, “First of all we thought it was for a few nights, then a few weeks, I can honestly say that if we had known it would take three years to reopen we might not have had the fortitude!” But ignorance is bliss as they say. Instead the two found a temporary alternative venue for the Sub Club - Planet Peach (now Sugar Cube) which became its home, and then in 2001 it moved to the larger capacity Mas. Says Mike, “We were a cuckoo in other people’s premises. We were lucky that we had a very strong identity which people related to.” Just before the club re-opened Paul and Mike brokered the deal to buy the business. Says Mike, “During the three-year period the club was closed the McCrimmon family decided they didn’t want to keep running it, and the father, Kenny McCrimmon, tragically passed



NO SUB-STITUTE away. Kenny says that “He was a great guy and I still miss him. Paul and I managed to negotiate a deal and bought the lease and we reopened almost three years to the day the club had closed. In effect it was a brand new club on the same site, with a new broom.” "We felt like we were starting all over again. Since then every year has been a new challenge. But we are still all about new music, and our musical direction is as progressive as ever. We’ve taken the club out with its own space too. For instance we did a mystery tour from George Square to the Campsie Hills – and we have run parties on boats at Loch Lomond and at Loch Katrine and we took the Sub Club party to a famous old barge in Paris ‘Batofar’. We’ve also actively engaged with Scotland’s festivals. At one point there were about 13 festivals, it’s died down a bit now, but we realised that we need to embrace festivals and be part of it, otherwise the summer would be even more challenging than it is. We now work around the festival calendar – we couldn’t beat them, so we joined them. This year we had our first Sub Club tent at RockNess and it was great and we have been involved with T in the Park for a number of years.” He continues, “It’s all about keeping our club relevant to our customers, and to new customers. It’s like a conveyor belt – people get on at one end, and get older and get off. We need to keep new customers coming.” But he feels that nightclubs do get the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ when it comes to licensing. He comments, “Night clubs are a soft target for licensing chiefs. We’ve never had a single glass or bottle incident at our club, yet we have to serve in plastic. We can’t sell champagne – it’s okay if clubs have a VIP area, but goes against our grain to have a VIP area, so we can’t sell it. On the beer front we buy cans instead of serving beer in plastic – even then that has been a battle with the beer companies. I can understand why, because this glass ban is not worldwide, but the time it takes to decant bottles of beer into plastic, makes it much more convenient for us to sell cans. We’ve a two hour window to make money and we need to serve customers quickly. As a result we sell tonnes of Red Stripe, and once we persuaded Heineken to let us sell their stumpy cans we increased Heineken sales from 3 cases to 25 cases per week! The problem for us is that not all products are available in cans, and cans are usually more expensive so that can affect our bottom line.” SEPTEMBER 11 DRAM


He continues, “As far as safety goes, as far as I am concerned it starts at the door. A sensible door policy is essential when it comes to creating a safe environment. If people don’t feel safe, they can’t enjoy themselves. We’ve always been very stringent about who we let in and the results speak for themselves.” He also believes the Scottish government has missed a trick with the 2005 licensing act. He says, “The new act was a huge opportunity for the government to radically address the issues with the Scottish drinks culture. But it has not happened. There are some real anomalies - for instance it’s okay to drink and gamble until 6am but it is not okay to drink and dance until the same time. Since when was dancing more harmful than gambling? If we are fit and proper to sell alcohol then we should be able to decide when we close. Some places would stay open late, others wouldn’t. But this one size fits all policy doesn’t work. There are too many venues open until 3am, and there’s not enough business to go around. Glasgow’s policy of ‘let the market decide’, has caused a saturated market. That’s why people have to price cut. We don’t do that but we still provide a quality offering. We have DJs who come from places like Brazil and Germany – we pay the same price for them as Fabric in London does, but here they can only play for a maximum of two hours! They are always amazed we have to close at 3am.” As to the future of clubbing, says Mike, “I wish I had a crystal ball. Music is more accessible now than ever, and people access it in a different way. Everyone is now an expert. They download MP3s and think the quality is good enough…it’s not. Youngsters today take a lot more for granted as far as entertainment goes, they have so much more at their fingertips, that’s why they are reluctant to pay a premium for high quality. They expect high quality to be the same price as low quality. They are also prepared to travel round the world to go to a party and to go to festivals. It’s a different landscape from 10 years ago when the highlight of the week was to go clubbing at the weekend. But we will continue to concentrate on providing a high quality experience, and preserve the integrity of the Sub Club as a brand, we will take the Sub Club as far as we can, but we will try to keep it relevant to our own marketplace. The day we stop we will be going backwards.”



DESIGN FOCUS : SILK, EDINBURGH ATTRACTION INNS HAS OWNED WHAT IS NOW SILK AT EDINBURGH’S KINGSTABLES FOR SOME 16 YEARS. THE UNIT’S HAD FOUR DIFFERENT IDENTITIES IN THAT TIME, INCLUDING GAIA AND, LATTERLY, STEREO, THE NAME IT OPERATED UNDER FOR THE LAST SEVEN YEARS. NOW IT HAS A NEW LOOK AND A NEW NAME. JASON CADDY REPORTS. ilk opened last month and, at three-storeys high, it’s quite a spectacle. All roads lead to Attraction Inns’ MD Robert Orr, where credit for the look and feel of Silk is concerned. He says, “I’ve been in the business for over 20 years, and the first big refurbishment I undertook ran £100K and 12 weeks over budget. All the designers really did was take down on paper my ideas and run with them, so I’ve taken it all in house since then, and have a few design awards under my belt. “What I set out to achieve in Silk was a space that blends both industrial and soft opulence, with a ‘lounge lizard’ feel that wouldn’t look out of place in any major metropolis. But I can’t take all the credit, as I am surrounded by an immensely talented group of people who keep my ideas fresh, and we grow them organically together.” The smallish entrance belies the three-storey interior, although the main part of the ground floor (apart from the entrance area) was still under construction on my visit. So what’s it like inside? The walls of the square entrance space are leather padded in long




dark columns which run from floor to ceiling. Each is separated by a sliver of pink neon lighting which makes for a warm welcome. The Silk motif – a mirrored butterfly – is fixed to the wall directly in front of you, adjacent to which is the cloakroom. Round the corner is the entrance to the yet unopened floor, and a flight of stairs leading up to what is the largest floor. This is the heart of Silk, and it looks amazing and screams quality and attention to detail. It’s a long space, with a bar running down the left-hand wall, in front of which is a partition wall with shelving for drinks and archways through to the main dance floor. At either end of the central dance floor are two seating areas – at the far end for the masses, and near end (to the door) a raised area for VIPs. Several design features standout in here, but the raised VIP area is king. Mushroom-coloured leather banquettes line the walls and the odd peninsula seat creates intimate little areas with low wooden tables, complete with champagne bucket wells. There are also a few high chairs and tables in a corner, and a mirror runs

Photography by David Brooks Hall. right the way along all the walls in this area, lit from behind with colour-changing LED lighting. Along the back of some of the chairs is also a very effective gold leaf detail – like an ornate mirror frame. The walls have a horizontal stripe pattern, caused by the use of different coloured wood - like layers of soil if you cut the earth in half. The bar is also interesting, fusing a mixture of materials and textures from padded bar front, brown marble top and tiny mirrored glitter ball tiles forming a strip along the top of the bar front, and studded along the base of the gantry. Above it are several Plasma screens advertising different nights in between music videos. The dance floor itself is quite spacious and the feature wall is clad in a mixture of oblong white and mirrored tiles, on which are projected a rainbow blotch of colours. There’s a lot going to engage the senses, with state-of-the-art lighting and Mr Orr hasn’t stinted on materials either, so fixtures and fittings ooze a kind of decadence.

The second floor is an equally long space, but half the size of the floor below, narrowing at the far end to a fire exit. The bar is in the same place, to the left, and nestling at the end of it is a DJ booth padded in mottled leather, again in mushroom tones. Opposite the bar is an equally as long section of banquette seating, with tables and stools. Beyond both the bar and the seats is a smaller dance floor, which has shelves for drinks. But the design triumph of this floor has to be the wall-mounted mirrored oblong pieces, encased in a think wooden frame. They stand proud from the wall, and a burnt orange light illuminates the surround. I haven’t seen anything quite like this before. Once the ground floor is open customers will be able to move freely between all three storeys, with ground floor mainly in use as an overspill. The design, Robert tells me, will be sympathetic to the rest of Silk. It’s obvious that Robert Orr knows his onions as Silk combines high end sophistication with a cool edge, that should ensure that particular address remains on the Capital’s clubbing map for generations to come. DRAM SEPTEMBER 11


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DESIGN FOCUS : SUGAR CUBE, GLASGOW BY JASON CADDY umber 34 Queen Street Glasgow is an address with a longtime association with Glasgow’s clubbing fraternity. From CPL’s Planet Peach back in the day, via Cube and, latterly, Milan, this basement space has lent itself incredibly well in meeting the needs demanded by a late night venue. The new occupant is Sugar Cube, which opened last month, a joint venture between business partners Brendan Hegarty and Paul Hislop. Their working relationship started in the city’s west end, when they built up the successful Boho, and it wasn’t long before they decided to bring a little bit of their sparkle to the city centre. And sparkly it is. Most of the walls in the four-roomed club have been covered in a glittery material sourced, like most of the interior’s fixtures and fittings, either locally or from the internet with a design concept conceived by Paul and Brendan. Paul explains, “We began by consulting an interior designer and in all fairness some of her ideas were great, and we ran with one of them. But in the end it boiled down to us knowing exactly what we wanted, so we took over the reins and came up with the rest of the concept ourselves.” The duo then engaged Urban Life Contracts Ltd as the main contractor on the job, and they delivered the job on time, and to Paul and Brendan’s specifications. The club has two entrances after the office premises next door was annexed in the days of Cube, and the main entrance is number 34. Number 44 can be used independently as an entrance for VIPs. Once down the stairs which take you in from number 34, which have been finished off beautifully in a grey slate tile, you are in Room One. The sparkly paper stands out because it constantly twinkles in the light. The bar, also, thanks to the brick-shaped mirrored tiles (the only hangover from the designer) that sprawl up the back bar and across the ceiling of the bar. The floor, as throughout, is screed concrete and the various booths – including a mammoth U-shaped one for hires – have been upholstered in




SUGAR CUBE NIGHTCLUB EVERY SUCCESS FOR THE FUTURE We were delighted to work with Paul and Brendan and his team on their latest exciting project. Congratulations!

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tasteful white leather. And there is a big emphasis on table service. “Hospitality is immensely important to us and table service is a mainstay in the club,” says Paul. “Whether it’s a VIP, hire or regular paying customer, this is the ethos we began at Boho four years ago, and it’s an integral part of what we do here. It’s natural in London, but Glasgow still lags behind.” There is also a DJ cubbyhole looking onto the dance floor and ‘fat beam’ laser lighting that picks up the glint in the wallpaper, and the gallery of pictures hanging on the wall. Paul sourced them on line, and they’re a bit saucy, with some featuring Pamela Anderson in various poses. One with a pig. The club is oddly shaped and labyrinth-like, but by removing a few walls and repositioning the cloakroom, there is now more of a flowthrough. Room One segues into Room Two via the cloakroom, and mini shooters bar, complete with furry walls and plasmas (inspired by the Russell Brand film, Get Him to the Greek) and into Room Two. This is the most interesting part of the club from a design standpoint. The island bar that was is now against the left-hand wall as you enter. The colour scheme is black and red, and the sparkly paper is black, but no less as glinting, like a black sapphire. Add to this a giant Regency-style bed in charcoal blue with a Plasma screen above it, and a cage for dancing, and you have something very interesting. And judging on reactions from the SEPTEMBER 11 DRAM


opening night, the customers agree, with Room Two dominating in much of the feedback. The ceiling and the granite bar are both black, and there are laser lights installed instead of the standard drop down lights, because the ceiling in here is a lot lower than in the rest of Sugar Cube. The cage, incidentally, contains a peep-hole in the wall through to another plasma screen. And I have to give a mention the amazing cube-shaped lights that hand next to the bed and above the bar. Like giant dice, they have been put together using a gold-coloured frame and then shaded using strings threaded with clear glass stones. Next door to this, via a corridor with a door off to the toilets, is what is called the overspill, and is the smallest of the four rooms. This time, pink sparkly walls greet you, a white Perspex bar, squidgy white leather cube seats and odd-shaped low tables. There’s also a touch-screen karaoke and lots of premium products behind the bar. This would be ideal for a hen party and, like the rest of the club, no detail has been overlooked. My favourite part about this area being the chandeliers, encased in clear cylindrical covers. Continuing along the same corridor and via a chaise lounge and big black-frames mirror, round the corner and you’re in the VIP area. It has one large U-shaped booth for hiring out, and various other seating, upholstered in black leather. It also has a dance floor and little nooks and crannies with high-backed chairs and tables and the sparkly paper. But the jewel in the crown is the bar. Sponsored by Belvedere vodka, the naked trees associated with the brand have been etched into glass all around the stainless steel bar and beyond, and there’s a grey-bluish tint to the lighting, and it looks simply stunning. And this also happens to be co-owner Paul’s favourite part, too. I have to say that out of all its previous incarnations, this is the most opulent I have seen the place looking. The space has been utilised imaginatively and freed from clutter, be that walls in obtrusive places, giant peaches or too much red leather padding. This brings airiness to it, in so far as you can in a basement. It’s also incredibly cool, so Sugar Cube will have no bother packing them in.



ongratulations to John Gilligan – at an age, when many folk would be out improving their golf handicap, John has taken on the role as MD Sales for Tennent’s (mind you, he does have a good handicap already!) . The news went round the trade like wild fire and licensees are delighted -an experienced hand at the tiller, and a well kent face too. It’s not going to make it easy for John Gemmell at Heineken, a former protégé of John Gilligan’s or for that matter Graham Baird at Belhaven and Tom Cullen at Molson Coors – talk about putting the cat amongst the pigeons! It is an inspired appointment by Stephen Glancey! Let the wheeling and dealing begin… I have just realised that Coca-Cola have come up with a new phrase for the Ontrade – they are calling it Out of Home (OOH) channel. Soo…does that make the off trade – Out of Pub (OOP) channel? I can just imagine the discussions at sales meetings – “coke is doing well in the OOH… but not so well in the OOPs”…the mind boggles! I caught up with a few of my favourite chefs at the recent HIT Poet’s Lunch but it strikes year after year, that the two sides of the hospitality industry still remain quite separate, and this is very evident at an event like this. There can’t have been more than a couple of licensees there – instead it was restaurateurs, chefs and hoteliers, and the folk that supply them. While the BEN dinner is very much the other way. Of course these are charity events, but it is still a pity there is not more crossover between the two. I got the wee ferry back from Arran the other week and was horrified by the state of it. The toilets were a disgrace, absolutely filthy, and the old-fashioned tea room was archaic. What does this say to tourists. Come on Caledonian MacBrayne – you can and should do better! Talking of welcoming tourists Glasgow Airport is


dismal these days. Despite the fact that it has undergone a refurbishment the planners/architects seem to have forgotten about creating a welcoming atmosphere. As one of the visitors I picked up this month commented, “It’s like a third-world airport!” I have to say that Diageo do the Johnnie Walker Tournament really well! From branding to hospitality it’s an event that is enjoyed by everyone, and of course this year’s climax was a five-man play-off which meant more than a few folk missed their trains! From Editors to publicans, wholesalers to politicians the mix of people invited is interesting too. This showcase event does show Gleneagles at its best, but I particularly liked the new Johnnie Walker Blue Bar in the Club House – complete with heated seats and its own whisky sommelier… it really is first class! The Scottish Government is determined to get minimum pricing through – of course what’s agreed politically in Scotland, can still be challenged in the European Courts, and I would imagine that’s just what is going to happen. I’m just wondering who is going to pay to defend the action? However having said that I am not against minimum pricing, it will help the ontrade. For the government the timing of the recent NHS Report which has revealed that we drink more than our English and Welsh counterparts, was great timing, but if you read the report actual alcohol consumption in Scotland has gone down – I didn’t see any headlines about that. No wonder I am a cynic! The same report from the NHS reveals that Scots are drinking 22.8 units a week. I didn’t think these figures were too bad. That’s only half a pint more than the recommended weekly limit, or just over half a glass of wine. When you consider that the recommended limits were made up anyway… the biggest rise has been in wine sales, with beer and cider going down, and spirits staying the same. This is probably down to hard pressed businessmen and women going home and relieving their stress with a glass or two of wine. Perhaps if the Government got their act together and got the economy growing, drinking levels would go down, as we would all be less stressed! Licensing lawyers around the country are in tizzy about the guidance that has been issued with regard to promotions. It seems that the

guidance suggests that licensing boards can make their own decisions. Says Janet Hood “This guidance is a real example of the damned leading the blind. It is wrong on so man levels!” A Harvard University health study has found that moderate alcohol consumption helps middleaged women age better. Researchers also found that those who regularly drank one to two drinks per night were 28% more likely to make it to 70 without major health problems. That’s good to know! A well known whisky brand has teamed up with Blockbuster to offer whisky fans the chance to enjoy a complimentary month’s free trial at The UK wide promotion will run on-pack and in pubs across the country. What agency came up with that stunning idea? Why would licensees actively promote something that encourages folk to stay at home and watch a video! They want people out enjoying a dram in their pubs… so quite frankly I think putting scratch cards into pubs is a waste of time and money! And the early adopters that I know are not going to Blockbuster, they are using their iPads! Let’s have some marketing activity that is more relevant to the ontrade…please, and a bit more cutting edge than videos! I don’t think the Scottish National Party would win any awards from the ‘Plain English campaign’ and that’s got nothing to do with their politics, rather the wording of their recent announcement regarding minimum pricing. It said, “A specific minimum unit price will not be contained within the Bill because the Scottish Government considers separating the principle of the measure and the actual price allows each to be fully scrutinised and considered in turn. ”What this appears to mean is that the government hasn’t yet decided on what the minimum price will be, and how it will be implemented. Apparently they are still seeking guidance on what retailers are likely to do with the extra revenue! I love the guys at Lebowskis - they have very kindly opened a bar/restaurant literally on my office doorstep. The Finnieston looks great and the other plus is it has energetic Erwin Trykowski looking after the bar. I wish them every success with their new place... no doubt they will be seeing a bit more of me...lucky guys! DRAM SEPTEMBER 11




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DESIGN FOCUS : BENNETS, GLASGOW ennets, on Glasgow’s Glassford Street, is Scotland’s oldest gay club and was just about ready to receive the last rites before divine intervention came in the form of Lynnet Leisure, in the spring of this year. The club was almost a rite of passage for gays of a certain age, but neglect meant it was no longer the hotspot it once was. But a few brushstrokes here and there, new lighting and imagination, Lynnet has awakened this gay giant before he permanently nodded off. And it is in a safe pair of hands - those of manager, Paul Stirrat. He says, “I am a Bennets’ boy. I came here in my youth and I see the refit as giving a dear old friend a bit of TLC. There are an estimated 117,000 gay people in the greater Glasgow area, and only a fraction of them venture out, and we want to turn that around by enticing them out into a club they knew and loved. This is, after all, a credible clubbing destination with a history and a lot of affection among Scotland’s gay community. And with 28 new CCTV cameras, our customers’ safety is a top priority.” The first thing that has changed is the exterior. Where once there was a horrendous etched stone carving of something resembling a Roman god – nicknamed Pug – are some sleek and more sophisticated grey tiles. The front door and surrounds have all been painted in gunmetal grey too, putting paid to what was a fairly shabby and uninspired frontage. Explains Paul, “We wanted to try and create a New York vibe, like a warehouse club you’d come across in the Meat Packing district.” There are also under-pavement lights through the old clear drain covers which change colour. Once inside, there’s a long tunnel corridor with an arched ceiling, embedded with up-lighters that also change in colour. This simple




BY JASON CADDY yet effective design provides a bit of a clue as to what Lynnet has done further into the club and, again, this space is a world away from drab and unimaginative blue painted walls. At the very end of the space is where you pay to get in, and further still, a circular area, previously a dead space, now brought back to life as a mini internet cafe with the addition of computers and stools on a wallshelf, with free Wi-Fi available throughout the building. Beyond this is a cloakroom, to the right of which is a staircase with a half landing, which has a glass window on to the first floor bar. It affords you a bum-level view of the bar and was part of the original design, only now with all new ‘Bennets’ etched across the glass in big grey letters. On the way up the stairs are gilt-edged framed posters advertising of all the seven nights of entertainment the new Bennets has on offer. I was immediately struck by how fresh and new the club felt, and it’s all down to relatively few tweaks here and there. The brown walls are no more, replaced by the gunmetal grey colour scheme. There are reupholstered banquettes all around in black leather, but the dance floor remains in the middle of the space, sandwiched between two bars. Glasgow-based Glass Age has provided small mosaic mirrored tiles that you’d ordinarily associate with a glitter ball, but instead they have been used on all the walls that house the dance floor, surrounding pillars etc. It looks great and really lifts the place in amongst all the grey walls and black leather. This space is split level – by three steps - and both levels are served by their own bar. The first bar is now a Moet Chandon Champagne Bar, with a brand new illuminated gantry and new white bar front, which is also down lit. This is what you can see through the window from the stairs

and it’s nothing like the Bennets of old would have ever considered. It works a treat. It’s in a corner so the back bar is shelved in white with some Perspex additions that change colour and it’s another oasis of colour in amongst the grey. There are still some seats near to the bar that are currently upholstered in snake skin, but they’ll soon be changed to white leather, to chime with the bar. The second, larger bar on this floor has received much the same treatment, although it’s not Moet-sponsored. The main difference is that there’s a chainmail backdrop which shimmers when a bottle is removed. From a distance, it looks like a water feature, and both bar fronts have what looks like the top of a Christmas cake as bar fronts. Like thick icing, painted brilliant white and illuminated in changing hues. Paul took me through all the various colours and it’s such an effective way to change the look and feel of the place – and ideal for the many theme nights they are planning. Upstairs, via a new huge gilt-edged mirror hanging on the wall, is the second floor. This has been given much the same treatment, although it varies slightly in layout, with one bar and a larger dance floor. But in essence the same formula of grey painted walls, a deep clean and mood-lighting, all conspire to give this floor a muchneeded facelift, too. The other main difference is the flooring. Downstairs are stone tiles, and upstairs is a kind of rubberised lino – reminiscent of a sports centre or swimming pool. I should also say that this is phase one of the refit and for phase two, a completely new sound and lighting system is planned. There’s no doubt that Bennets needed this shot in the arm and Glasgow, quite rightly for its size and status, at long last has another credible gay clubbing destination, other than its arch nemesis round the corner. Let battle commence. DRAM SEPTEMBER 11



PRODUCTS 01 UK POS UK Point Of Sale (UK POS) is introducing a new range of point of sale to help encourage consumers to see the value in dining out, in its revamped brochure available from this month, UK POS’ Sales & Marketing Director, Debra Jamieson, says, “The new hospitality range is sophisticated and stylish whilst also functional; we’ve had tremendous feedback from the key accounts that have been using it to date and are looking forward to introducing it to some new venues and monitoring its success.” Call the sales team directly on 0161 431 4400 to request a brochure.

02 AMBAR ESPECIAL It is the notorious Spanish beer Ambar Especial – yes it is back on our UK shores and ready to take on all those British drinkers and tapas eaters. Brewed at La Zaragozana in Zaragoza, north east Spain this amazing amber hued beer with a unique bitterness is a welcomed change to all those generic Spanish brews that are fast brewed or even brewed in the uk. With a history going back over 100 years La Zaragozana has opened as a museum in Spain, exhibiting its open fermentation vessels and original brew house that are still in operation creating the Ambar we import today. Contact Pierhead

03 PBR — PABST BLUE RIBBON PBR the iconic USA beer is finally here! Selling a storm over in the States it is now the 3rd biggest selling beer that side of the Atlantic. After being awarded an accolade back in 1893 the brewery tied Blue Ribbons around the necks of the bottles to denote a prize winning beer, folk then started asking for Blue Ribbon beer – and so the name Pabst Blue Ribbon was born. PBR is an American style premium lager crafted with a hefty infusion of 6 row barley carefully balanced with domestic hops and an imported Yugoslavian variety to create a truly unique flavour. Contact Pierhead DRAM DRINKS RETAILING AND MARKETING PUBLISHED BY MEDIA WORLD LIMITED UPPER FLOOR / FINNIESTON HOUSE / 1 THE STABLES YARD / 1103 ARGYLE STREET / GLASGOW / G3 8ND t. 0141 221 6965 e. web. Editor: Susan Young • Chairman: Noel Young • Production Manager: James Devlin • Advertising Executive: Martin Cassidy • Editorial: Jason Caddy • Administration: Cheryl Cooke Published by Media World Ltd. Subscriptions: DRAM is available by subscription for all other qualified persons involved in the Scottish Licensed Trade at the rate of £48 per annum including the DRAM Yearbook. The publishers, authors and printers cannot accept liability for errors or omissions. Any transparencies or artwork will be accepted at owner’s risk. All rights SEPTEMBER 11 DRAM




POSITIVE RESULTS FOR DIAGEO Diageo posted a strong set of results at the end of August with full year et profits rising 17% to £1.9bn. The company said ‘emerging markets’ were one of the reasons for its positive results. Andrew Cowan, Country Director, Diageo Great Britain, said, “Diageo Great Britain has shown resilient performance and delivered organic net sales growth of 2% in what remains a challenging consumer environment. Within this context, Diageo spirits performed well and delivered strong value share growth in spirits with year on year value share increase of +0.6 percentage points in total trade. “Total beverage alcohol (TBA) value growth] in the GB market overall was +4.1 percentage

points (ppts), with the on trade +4.2% and off trade 3.9%*. However overall volumes are in decline at -1.0% for the total trade. “Our Reserve business, which sells our super premium brands, showed strong performance delivering 30% net sales growth. Net sales of Smirnoff declined due to a lower volume and negative channel mix in Great Britain. However, Smirnoff Flavours have delivered a strong performance. Another of our core spirits in Great Britain, the rebranded ‘Captain Morgan’s Spiced’, gained share and delivered double digit net sales growth supported by incremental spend on advertising and digital campaigns.”

reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the copyright holder and publisher, application for which should be made to the publisher. Articles published in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publishers. © Media World Limited 2011.



#!,,53./7 &/2!&2%% .//",)'!4)/. 15/4%/. 0141 946 0444 Sims Automatics Ltd 46 Dalsholm Road Glasgow G20 0TB




The HIT Committee celebrate another successful POET’s lunch

Tam Cowan pictured with Abandonman

ROUNDUP CHARITY POETS EVENT ENJOYS HIP-HOP SUCCESS A comedy set by Irish hip-hop crew Abandoman helped The Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland’s Push Off Early Tomorrow’s Saturday (POETS) Lunch raise £32,000 to support rising talent in the Scottish hospitality industry. Abandoman duo Rob Broderick and James Hancox used their rapping and instrumental skills to create a never to be repeated set for 420 supporters in the Glasgow Radisson Blu Hotel, Scottish comedian and Master of Ceremonies, Tam Cowan entertained the crowd followed by a charity auction and a golden raffle to raise money. During the lunch, David Cochrane, Chief Executive of HIT Scotland, launched the charity’s 2012 emerging talent

scholarship programme. Available to everyone working in Scottish hospitality, the scholarships aim to help individuals realise their potential and raise ambitions across the industry. Russell Davidson, Managing Director of Davidson Asset Management and chair of the POETS Lunch committee said, “The POETS Lunch has become one of the must attend social event for the hospitality industry in the West of Scotland. We raised a great amount for an important programme that all the industry will benefit from.” The POETS Lunch was sponsored by Braehead Foods, New Wave Laundries and Xpress Recruitment and diners also got a chance to beer and food sample courtesy of Molson Coors. Congratulations to Richard and Naidine Urquhart on their recent wedding. Richard, who is one of the next generation of Urquhart’s, the family behind Gordon & MacPhail, tied the knot with South African born Naidine in Elgin, and what a wedding it was – the bride even rode her horse to the ceremony. But the families sailing connections were not forgotten as you can see from the picture. Djamel Benouari has just completed the refurbishment of O Sole Mio, which is his first solo venture. Djamel who is one of Scotland’s best known maitre’d’s, decided to take over O Sole Mio because it was one of Glasgow’s longest established restaurants. Says Djamel, “It’s my baby now. I’ve had plenty of experience, and in fact helped set up Barca from scratch. I’m now putting all the passion that I had for other people’s businesses into my own.”



Michelle Monta gue gets into th e swing of things at the lunch

DRAM September 2011  

September issue of the only dedicated on-trade publication in Scotland, DRAM