Talk of the Town: Preparing for the return of restaurants


While reopening by government proclamation will kickstart the summer, we can’t just will local businesses back into existence. It will be impossible for some, difficult for others. The way we use Glasgow bars and restaurants is set to be disrupted by new regulations. That’s the reality that business owners are facing.

Now is the time for compromise and reinvention. The emphasis remains on takeaway and delivery, but businesses are considering their future indoors.


Owners across the city have their measuring tapes out and are trying to figure out how things will work when people are reintroduced to their favourite places. 

The definitive regulations and specifications remain unpublished, so restaurants, cafes and bars have been relying on the advice of health and safety consultants and a lot of Perspex as they prepare to trade safely.

The changeover is underway. Builders were working on The Social at Royal Exchange Square this week.

Elsewhere in town, 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 and restaurant closure order is lifted in Phase Three of relaxing lockdown restrictions – expected to be 15th July.

Outside areas for hospitality may still form part of Phase Two with measures currently being evaluated by Scottish government scientists, who are also expected to issue clarification on whether the distance between customers indoors should be two metres.

Joanna Nethery tells us the team at Five March have their eyes set on their return: “Very happy to say that as long as the stages of lockdown continue as proposed we’ll be like wee kids at Christmas ready to welcome folk back on the 15th July! Strangely nervous but the thought of seeing familiar faces is a truly great motivator.” 

Jimmy Lee at Lychee Oriental has fitted social distancing screens between tables as he prepares the restaurant for reopening. 

Meanwhile, Tiki Bar on Bath Street are working on a revamped beer garden and The Locale at Charing Cross have a one-way system and new table plan to allow them to operate their popular drinks garden.

Saint Luke’s are planning an outdoor area for the front of the venue. Nearby bar 226 Gallowgate have applied for permission to serve 30 customers outside on the recently upgraded street space beside the Barrowlands. BAaD will also take advantage of outside space.

John Quigley at Red Onion is looking at refitting his restaurant to take 40 covers in phase three and continuing home meal delivery, while there’s talk of pop-up food space on Sauchiehall Street and a food village in Blythswood Square.

Café Strange Brew are in the midst of some repairs in their kitchen and anticipate they will continue with takeaway while social distancing is in place because of the limited size of their café. Sister café Mesa on Duke Street has a license for outside seating, but the space is more likely to be used for queue management when they reopen their kitchen in July.

Bilson Eleven at Home

Bilson Eleven are also facing the challenges of a small dining room while preparing to open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. They are introducing a staggered booking system and offering their private dining room for a party of four. Right now, a home dining collection service is keeping the kitchen busy.

Peter McKenna from The Gannet tells us they are planning an early August reopening with changes to the dining room and a revised style of service.

Derek Marshall from Gamba has repainted the dining room and deep cleaned the kitchen of his award-winning restaurant, ready to return when a more traditional service can resume later in the summer.

It’s something he is looking forward to: “I cannot wait to get back to work and get life back to some normality.”

Until then, the local hospitality industry continue to look for clarity on the shape of things to come and prepare for the return of restaurants.