THE opening of the new 7 Saints venue in the centre of Kilmarnock was anything but straightforward for owner Nick Livingstone and his team.
The operator, who also owns a 7 Saints venue in Prestwick, took on the Kilmarnock site – a former bank and office space – in late August and expected the venue to be open around six weeks later.
However, the refurbishment of the building, which was already an extensive job, became more challenging when asbestos was found.
Unlike the Prestwick venue, which is a Star Pubs & Bars lease, the Kilmarnock site was taken on independently and so it was left to Livingstone to deal with the issue.
The discovery extended the project by around eight weeks.
“The financial implications of that (the asbestos), multiplied by the loss in trade from those two months we weren’t open, presented some significant challenges in the business,” Livingstone told SLTN.
Despite the complications, however, Livingstone was able to open the venue in late November, standing 7 Saints Kilmarnock in good stead for the busy festive season.
The Kilmarnock venue has a number of similarities to its Prestwick sibling.
The food and drink offer in Kilmarnock has the same emphasis on burgers, beer and cocktails and the look and feel of the interior is very much in keeping with the other outlet, which Livingstone opened in summer 2016.
The consistency was helped by working with the same suppliers, with Heineken providing beer and cider and Inverarity Morton supplying wines and spirits.
There has also been consistency in terms of staff, with four long-term members of the Prestwick team transferred to Kilmarnock in senior roles.
“For me, you can make a wall look the same, put the same thing on a plate, but it’s the intangibles that actually matter in a brand,” said Livingstone.
“The intangibles matter more than the stuff you can see and touch. It’s how you feel, how you’re engaged, that kind of thing.
“We spent a lot of time training the staff and really getting them bedded in to how we operate and how we behave and we’re certainly reaping the rewards.”