Licensees ‘proud of Glasgow’ after successful Commonwealth Games
By Dave Hunter, Matthew Lynas and Graeme Murray
OPERATORS across Glasgow say they have reaped the rewards from eleven days of Commonwealth Games competition, reporting increased footfall and sales.
In the east end of the city, the Hielan Jessie pub established itself as an unofficial base for the St Kitts team, and even welcomed the country’s president and first lady during the Games.
“I know we’ve showcased the licensed trade at its very best and I know we’ve showcased Glasgow at its very best,” said Hielan Jessie owner Billy Gold.
“I’m very passionate about the trade, and I feel we get a raw deal a lot of the time and we don’t get the recognition we’re due, but I really think we did what we do best, and I’m sure that was replicated across the city.
“It’s been a fantastic experience. I’m glad it’s over, but it’s been amazing for everybody.”
Elsewhere in the east of the city, West Bar & Brewery was well-positioned for visitors to Glasgow Green.
Owner Petra Wetzel said: “The atmosphere in Glasgow has been wonderful; I am so proud of Glasgow.
“They [customers] have come from everywhere. We had the Australian cycling team in before they cycled.
“We’ve had people in from Jamaica and Australia, everywhere.”
In the Merchant City, Bacchus bar manager Ester Gunn said the first Saturday of the Commonwealth Games had been “the busiest day I’ve ever worked here and I’ve been here for ten years”.
The bar had established itself as a base for Canadian visitors during the Games, as well as attracting tourists from other countries, said Gunn.
Nicola Wilkinson, manager at Sloans on Argyle Street, said the city centre had been “mobbed” during the Games.
“We did an extra third in food business last week,” she said. “It’s been like Christmas.
“We have a TV outside and that has encouraged people to stay longer during the day.”
In the west end of the city Firebird, on Argyle Street, opened earlier in the day to capitalise on an increase in footfall in the area.
Bar manager Liga Cocane said the bar was going through “a week’s worth of stock in one day” during the Games.
“There’s been quite a few foreign tourists and quite a few locals,” said Cocane.
“Everyone is getting along fine, with no incidents, it’s all been good.”
Further down Argyle Street Brewdog bar was “incredibly busy”, according to bar manager Andy Davies.
“Deliveries have been a minor nightmare and we’ve had to re-route them through a side street,” he said.
“There’s been a significant increase in trade and [there’s] nothing that’s comparable.”
Even some of those who were not located close to Games events managed to make the most of the fortnight.
Andy Clark, group marketing manager at Holdfast Entertainment Group, the company behind Glasgow nightclubs The Garage and The Cathouse, worked with neighbouring Sauchiehall Street venues Driftwood, Campus and Juan Chihuahua to offer free entry and discounts on food to Commonwealth Games volunteers.
The Garage also hosted an unofficial after-party for volunteers after the opening ceremony – welcoming more than 700 volunteers.
“All ages were in, up to about [age] 60,” said Clark.
“They just came in and had a party, because that’s what we do in The Garage.”
The club has also hosted a competition to win a Hoy bike and a boxing contest – where customers had to get the highest score in the club’s boxing game – for a chance to win a £50 cash prize.
“We’ve tried to get in the spirit,” said Clark.
While some outlets worked to attract visitors to the Games, or those volunteering at the events, other outlets didn’t necessarily notice a big increase on their usual business.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve been busier than usual, but we’ve had lot of people who have come in because they’ve had good recommendations from taxi drivers,” said Laura Smith, restaurant manager at Stravaigin on Gibson Street.
It wasn’t just operators that enjoyed the Games.
Ian Cumming, commercial director at wholesaler Inverarity Morton, said trade had been “fantastic” during the Games.
“Many of the top bars have almost run out of product due to demand and we have been delighted with the result,” he said.
The event was also hailed as a success by sponsors.
Alan Hay, on-trade controller at Barr Soft Drinks, said: “The vibrancy and feel-good factor that has surrounded Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games has been fantastic and customers are informing us that it has had a major, positive impact on sales in the on-trade.”