It took a lot of graft from Raymond Codona to get his latest venture off the ground.
Launching in Glasgow last month, Bavaria Brauhaus is the culmination of five months of work – from sourcing beers and chandeliers to commissioning bespoke iron railings and ornate painted ceilings.
But Codona’s hard work paid off and the venue, in a B-listed former bank premises on Bothwell Street, which previously housed Madness Theatre of Fun, opened its doors last month after a £1 million overhaul.
His journey to Bavaria Brauhaus began on a trip to Germany where the operator encountered Hofbräuhaus in Munich and decided to create something similar in Scotland.
“Like most good concepts, it started by accident,” Codona told SLTN.
“I stopped off in Munich and visited Hofbräuhaus. It was very impressive and had a great atmosphere and I really wanted to do something similar here.”
And he had the perfect site in mind: Madness Theatre of Fun, which had traded in the Bothwell Street premises for the past 13 years.
Keen to continue to lease the premises, Codona reckoned it would suit his Bavaria Brauhaus concept.
Work on the refurbishment project, which Codona describes as “a homage to Hofbräuhaus”, began in June and the venue opened on November 11 – by which time the 200-capacity premises, which has a combined floor space of 6500 sq ft, had been overhauled.
One of the most striking features of the new venue is the ornate painted ceiling created by Glasgow artist Nichol Wheatley, who worked on Alasdair Gray’s Òran Mór fresco. It also features two imported brass chandeliers, which create a bold lighting statement.
On the ground floor, chunky furniture gives way to a 23ft copper-topped bar, which arrived days before the grand opening, while a staircase spirals up to the mezzanine level.
The “quieter” upstairs area, featuring bespoke iron railings bearing the Bavaria Brauhaus crest, overlooks the grand
hall below where an oompah band performs at regular
intervals in the venue’s bandstand.
The mezzanine also has a secluded parquet-floored area overlooking the street that can be booked for private functions.
Bavaria Brauhaus’ German influences extend to the beer menu which revolves around six brewers which are said to dominate the Munich beer scene: Spaten, Hofbräu, Hacken-Pschorr, Augustiner Bräu, Paulaner and Löwenbräu. A further 50 bottled beers are stocked.
The drinks menu may be a German beer lover’s dream, but Codona is keen to stress that Bavaria Brauhaus is also a restaurant listing hearty dishes such as roast chicken, Alpine fayre and Scottish favourites like fish and chips.
Codona, whose licensed trade background includes running Centre Point nightclub in Coatbridge and the MegaBar & Hype Nightclub in Motherwell, which he still operates, said he was “hands on” throughout the project.
“It has been a grind,” he said.
“I’ve been here every day since June and have invested a lot of personal time in the project.
“My dad was keen on the concept and he has backed me up on it and supported the idea.”
Advice wasn’t in short supply for Codona, who also consulted with Petra Wetzel of Glasgow German-style bar and brewery West and Gerald Michaluk of Arran Brewery, who he said were “very helpful” and provided inspiration and advice.
The doors of Bavaria Brauhaus may now be open, but the work doesn’t stop here for Codona.
“Getting the place up and running is just the beginning, we now have to deliver on food and service,” he said.