Talk of the Town: Ardnamurchan prepares for social distancing


Neil Douglas of Ardnamurchan on Hope Street has dramatically revamped his bar with individual pods for customers to eat and drink in. The move is in preparation for reopening once the pub andrestaurant closure order is lifted in Phase Three of relaxing lockdown restrictions.

Neil operates Ardnamurchan, a contemporary Scottish bar and restaurant on Hope Street in Glasgow and Basils – a neighbourhood bar in Edinburgh – with Star Pubs & Bars. He also runs two Mediterranean restaurants in Glasgow.

Neil is keen that Ardnamurchan and Basils are amongst the first bars in Scotland to reopen when the closure order is lifted and has put in place measures approved by health and safety consultants.

He took the opportunity to completely redecorate Ardnamurchan during lockdown. It now has 21 unique private dining and drinking spaces accommodating groups of varying sizes, divided from each other by screens.

Explains Neil: “We’re fortunate to have a large venue. We’ve taken out a third of our seating to separate customers and the layout will work whether people have tomaintain a one or two metre distance.

The private spaces work really well and people will be able to pre book the one they want. Having tried them out with my own children, I know they’re perfect for families; they give the kids a bit more space than usual and naturally encourage them to stay close to their table.

“For those customers wanting to sit at the bar, there’s a discrete Perspex screen to divide them from staff.”

Perspex screens will also be installed at Basils. “We got on the case and ordered quickly and I’m glad we did as there’s such a high demand it has taken more than a month to get the Perspex in,” says Neil.

A one-way system, infrared taps and toilet flushes plus hand sanitisers will be in place at both venues which, if required, will close one day a week for deep cleaning.

Staff have already been given on line training and will receive complete inductionsbefore the doors open.

Customers can still walk in off the street for tables and pay by cash or can choose togo contactless by booking their table on line and ordering and paying for food and drinks via an app.

“We’re really happy with the changes. Our aim is to keep all the character and ambience of the venues and maintain a great experience for customers whilst providing the safety measures that many will want. We source most of our produce from the West of Scotland so we can still serve the dishes our customers know and love. We’ll be ready whenever the go-head to reopen comes. From all the positive comments we’ve had from passersby, we know that customers are keen to come back and we can’t wait to welcome them.”

Neil employs 17 staff at Ardnamurchan and 11 at Basil, all of whom have been furloughed. He opened Ardnamurchan in May 2017 following a £430,000 investment with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars.