A team approach pays off in capital

Operator and pub company have worked together on several Edinburgh units

• Iain Pert outside The Spider’s Web, prior to the beginning of the refurbishment project. As The Jolly Botanist, it will have a focus on gin and food.

CO-OPERATION between tenant and pub company has been crucial for one Edinburgh operator in the past year.

I@G Events, which operates freehold pubs No.1 Grange Road and Scott’s of Rose Street, has taken on leases for three separate Star Pubs & Bars outlets in the last year – with each involving a significant refurbishment.
Iain Pert, who runs I@G Events with business partner Gordon Gillhooley, told SLTN the partnership came about after a conversation with a rep from Star Pubs & Bars’ parent company, Heineken.
“We dealt with Heineken on free-trade, and one of the guys from Heineken said it was worth having a chat with someone from Star Pubs & Bars to see if there were any opportunities,” said Iain.
“We were a bit sceptical but we made the contact, told one of the guys the type of things we were interested in doing and if any opportunities came along then to give us a shout.
“That’s what’s happened and it’s worked very well for both parties.”
The series of projects began with The William McEwans Alehouse in Clerk Street, which reopened earlier this year as live music venue McSorleys.
The £155,000 refurbishment, which took around three weeks to complete, was co-funded by both companies and transformed the venue into a pub that offers a wide range of ales and food as well as live music every night.

The Jolly Botanist is expected to open in late September after a £500,000 revamp.

The McEwans Alehouse/McSorleys undertaking was followed by the refurbishment of another Star Pubs property, when I@G took on the lease of The Spider’s Web, on Morrison Street. The unit is in the process of being transformed into gin and food bar The Jolly Botanist.
Taking its name from the different ingredients, or ‘botanicals’ present in gin, The Jolly Botanist is expected to open in late September after a significant, £500,000 revamp.
While The Spider’s Web was predominantly a wet-led pub, the refurbishment project has included the installation of a new kitchen, which allows the unit to offer food for the first time, as well as a redesign of the outlet’s upstairs area that will increase the capacity by around 40% and the addition of a new glass frontage that opens to allow access to an al fresco dining area.
In total, The Jolly Botanist will have a capacity of 300 people.
In the meantime the companies have also been working together on a third unit, The Volunteer Arms in Leith.
An investment of £70,000 has seen the outlet refurbished and rebranded as The Cask & Still, which opened its doors last week.
Unsurprisingly, given the name, the pub has a strong focus on beer and whisky, to the extent that it even includes its own beer and whisky tasting room.
Iain said the projects have been collaborative right from the outset, with the I@G team “involved from day one”.
And he said he would be keen to work with Star Pubs & Bars again in future.
“We’ve just got these three [units] at the moment, and we’re going to try and get these up and running and successful, but we’re always looking for opportunities,” he said.

• McSorleys opened earlier this year. It was formerly The William McEwans Alehouse.

Chris Jowsey, of Star Pubs & Bars, praised I@G for making an effort to differentiate each of its leased units.
“Each of the pubs that I@G Events is leasing from us has a distinct offer – music with great drinks and food at McSorleys, a gin specialism along with other premium drinks and food at The Jolly Botanist and a marriage of beer and whisky at The Cask & Still,” said Jowsey.
“What they have in common is quality.
“As Heineken is passionate about beer and cider quality and the service provided by pubs, it is an ideal partnership.”