Veterans hatch a brand new venue

Casual dining restaurant is ready to rule the roost in Glasgow’s west end

The 20 cover Dixie Chick will also serve diners in sister venue Vodka Wodka downstairs

THERE are a number of factors an operator will consider when launching a new restaurant  business, but perhaps the most important is: how viable is this concept, and how likely is it to survive?

The recent reinvention of the space above the well-known Vodka Wodka bar on Glasgow’s Ashton Lane is an indication of what two seasoned operators believe is set to blossom, and last, in the city’s dining scene.

Gone is the more traditional approach to Italian dining that was Mimmo’s Bistro, with its red and white tablecloths, and in has come Dixie Chick, a casual yet quality eatery specialising in chicken.

The restaurant is the latest venture from hospitality veterans Alan Tomkins and Duncan McIlwraith who, after letting the unit, have decided to bring the operation of the intimate space in-house with a decidedly modern chicken joint.

Assisted by design firm Arka and shopfitter Pro Concept, the stalwarts have created a unique space in Glasgow’s west end, according to general manager of both Vodka Wodka and Dixie Chick, Leonardo Ventisei.

“There’s no one doing what we’re doing in the wider area,” he said.

There’s no one doing what we’re doing in the wider area; it’s fast food done better.

“It’s fast food done better in nice surroundings that people will feel comfortable in.

“We don’t have a target market as such; I can see anyone coming in here and enjoying it. I think we can appeal to anyone and everyone on Ashton Lane.”

The interior juxtaposes distressed wood with exposed brickwork and metal cages to create a distinctive dining area.

A white neon chicken-shaped light beams into the famous Glasgow lane, making it clear to passers-by what the restaurant’s specialty is.

Top of the menu is ‘Birdie Bites’: a selection of glazed wings, chicken strips and halloumi bites, backed up with an array of six burgers, a customisable salad and four different types of loaded fries.

“The food is taking on a few different cuisines, using chicken in different ways; we’re grilling it, and we’re frying it,” said Leonardo.

“We want to make the most of it and make sure it’s done properly.”

I’ve not had a single bad remark about the food yet, which is always positive.

To do so, Dixie Chick has called upon a number of suppliers; on the food side they include C&C Meats, Dunns Food and Drinks, Fresh Foods and Braehead Foods, and on the drinks side Inverarity Morton and Tennent’s.

The opening of the unit has also added an extra dimension to the well-established Vodka Wodka, as the menu is available to the downstairs clientele, who can order without having to go upstairs. It’s a move Leonardo said will “open a huge number of covers for us”.

And the fledging first month of business has been very encouraging, according to Leonardo.

“The first few weeks have been good, we’ve had a bit of a standing start but we want to build up gradually and make sure our product is right,” he said.

  “Gradually, we’re doing more and more food in Vodka Wodka, getting more advertising downstairs. In the next couple of weeks we’ll get on Deliveroo just to boost it again.

“The way it’s been going has been very encouraging; I’ve not had a single bad remark about the food yet, which is always positive and that’s the direction we’d like to keep going in.”