Reasons to be cheerful, part 3

IT’S always a pleasure to report on new ventures and success stories in the hospitality trade – and in this issue we have some great examples.

In our SLTN Catering section we feature two exciting additions to Scotland’s increasingly well-regarded restaurant scene. In the east, esteemed chefs Martin Wishart and Paul Tamburrini, latterly of Glasgow’s One Devonshire Gardens, have joined forces to launch a new Edinburgh brasserie – focusing on a style of food and service they reckon is under-exploited in the dining out market.
Wishart, whose name is synonymous with culinary excellence, describes The Honours as the “most exciting” project he has ever been involved in – a claim bound to get the foodies salivating in Edinburgh and beyond.
His enthusiasm, as he explains on pages 26&27, is down to a combination of factors, from the creative possibilities offered by brasserie-style food to the talent he and Tamburrini have assembled to lead the kitchen and front of house teams. The building itself – once home to renowned Italian restaurant Cosmo and purchased from the Murray Group – and its historical significance have also given an edge to the project.
No less a figure than Sir Walter Scott and his family were once resident in North Castle Street, where the restaurant is based, and it was during this time the writer famously discovered the Scottish crown jewels – the so-called ‘Honours of Scotland’ – hidden in Edinburgh Castle.
Meanwhile, in the west, a new restaurant from Ian Brown, who for more than 20 years was head chef at Glasgow’s Ubiquitous Chip, is going great guns in Giffnock. Ian tells Gillian McKenzie (on pages 22&23) he had never really considered venturing out on his own until Chip founder, and mentor, Ronnie Clydesdale, died last year. But since taking the plunge with Ian Brown Food & Drink late last year, the chef, in partnership with wife Sheila, hasn’t looked back, with the restaurant already forging a reputation far beyond its native south side.
We also bring you news this issue (p14) of a new specialist off-sales venture in Glasgow – The Good Spirits Co – where three former Oddbins people are aiming to fill a gap in the market left by the decline of the once mighty retail chain. It’s not just new businesses we are celebrating in this issue, however. We also profile Edinburgh pub operator Graham Blaikie (pages 6&7), who has transformed the fortunes of The Mercat Bar near Haymarket Station over the six years he has leased it from Belhaven.
As Graham says, it’s not been easy, but thanks to hard work, a clear vision and high retail standards, he’s realising the potential he always felt the business had. Now he’s thinking about expanding and taking on a second pub. These ventures I highlight are not alone. The Scottish hospitality industry still has hundreds of venues we should be proud of. The trade remains an environment where talent and entrepreneurialism can shine – even when so many factors seem to conspire against success – and I think it’s important to pause now and remember that.
We look forward to profiling even more great businesses in the months ahead – and to visiting them when the judging for the 2011 SLTN Awards begins next month.