Family-friendly approach key to the success of award-winning outlet
FAMILIES were always part of the game-plan at Glasgow’s West Brewery, Bar and Restaurant.
In early 2006, when West opened its doors, a growing number of venues across Scotland were targeting the family pound as a way to counter the effects of the smoking ban, which was implemented in March of that year.
For West, appealing to families was at the heart of the business plan right from the start.
Owner Petra Wetzel, a mother herself, was keen to recreate the family-friendly feel of the beer halls in her native Germany.
“It was always about an environment where children, families and dogs are welcome,” Petra told SLTN.
“In Germany you bring your children, you bring your auntie, you bring your granny and you bring the dog. You would never have a beer hall in Germany where that is not the case.
“As much as people say ‘why would you have a dog in a restaurant?’ Well, for some people the dog is part of the family so they should all be welcome.”
In the spacious bar and restaurant, located in the Templeton building at Glasgow Green, kids are kept busy with a range of colouring and activity books.
Petra has also commissioned Scottish children’s illustrator Ross Collins to create a special A3 colouring sheet featuring western icon Billy the Kid and Glasgow founder St Mungo sharing a soft drink. The idea, she said, is to create a more traditional activity for children that veers away from modern diversions like smart phones or hand-held games consoles.
“When I went out for lunch with my parents it was crayons, a sheet of paper and playing hangman and things like that,” said Petra. “That’s what we’re trying to get back to.
“We’re doing very old fashioned beer. We’re not the crazy kids of brewing. So we’re trying to encourage parents to go back to doing the old fashioned things with their kids when they come in.
“The colouring sheet is going back to the basics.”
One of the venue’s strengths is its floorspace, said Petra, which offers plenty of room to accommodate buggies, high-chairs, and wheelchairs.
“I hate going somewhere and feeling awkward because you’ve got a buggy or a child,” she said.
“There are so many places that say they’re child-friendly but actually the space doesn’t lend itself to having children because it’s too cramped.”
And it’s not just West’s layout and activities that are designed to be child-friendly.
The kids’ menu (see left) includes smaller portions from the main menu as well as dishes such as haddock goujons and kinderschnitzel: mini breaded pork escalope.“We’re trying to be as healthy as we can by putting stuff on that’s not out of a freezer and not processed,” Petra explained.
The menu helped West clinch the SLTN Family Outlet of the Year award for 2012, in association with Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE).
“West stood out as it offered a great variety of choice on its food menu for both adults and children,” said a spokeswoman for CCE.
“German dishes were on the children’s menu, which gave them an opportunity to try a broader range of foods than they might have otherwise had the opportunity to.
“The outlet was particularly welcoming and has a friendly atmosphere for all the family – and the commitment and energy from the owner were of the highest standard.”
Petra admitted that the recession has had an impact on the family market, but she said fewer visits per family have been balanced by increased spend during each visit.
Outlets that offer a point of difference are weathering the tough economic conditions, she said.
“There is still a market for chain stuff, but I think people really like supporting the local companies, and people who care,” she said.
“I’m here most days and I really care about this place and have a pride in this place. It’s different from going to a big chain restaurant, where it’s just part of a formula.
“There’s no formula for West. We can change things when we think they need to be changed and it’s happening in one venue, not being rolled out across the country.”
Image – West’s spacious bar restaurant (top) and (above) Petra collects the SLTN award.