Scotland's Best New Food and Drink Venues

We take a look at your favourite newcomers, and find out what it takes to get your new venue moving in the right direction

Feature by Peter Simpson | 05 Jan 2017

Striking out on your own can be a daunting prospect, but any fears can be mitigated by the fact that there's always someone who's done it before. This year's crop of your favourite new venues should serve as an inspiration to anyone keen on kickstarting their ideal foodie venture in 2017. 

For one thing, it's a genuinely mixed bag, from the tiny, TARDIS-like Brew Box Coffee Company on Wilson Street in Glasgow to the one-room cocktail speakeasy that is Edinburgh's Bryant and Mack. There's Taiwanese bubble tea, courtesy of Tempo Tea Bar at the New Waverley Arches, and natural and organic wine from Good Brothers Wine Bar in Stockbridge. Over in Glasgow, there's the community-minded but chef-driven food and drink at Cafe Strange Brew in the Southside, and a healthy-but-still-massively-fun cafe in the form of Primal Roast in the city centre. All ideas that have been taken to heart by the food-loving public, and proof that there's space for nigh-on anything in Scotland's dining scene.

Of course, it's all well and good knowing that someone has done something; the real intel comes from knowing how they did it, which steps they took, and what advice they would give to anyone else. Luckily, we have acquired just such advice from two of this year's best newcomers – Strange Brew and Good Brothers. 

Laurie MacMillan of Cafe Strange Brew

"I have worked in hospitality for around 12 years so was under no illusions about what level of work would be required to run my own business. I think choosing your location is essential. It took me around five years to find the perfect unit/location. Know what businesses have worked and haven't worked in the area. What were their failings? What made a business work? Really get to know your neighbourhood.

"Secondly, never underestimate the power of social media. 'Sometimes there aren't enough hours in the day to make a post' – wrong, make time. It's a free marketing tool right at your fingertips. Engage with your audience. Create a buzz.

"Thirdly, be willing to compromise. I scrapped my first menu after one week. It was too 'cheffy'. If the people of Shawlands want a Mortons roll on sausage, then I will give them a roll on sausage. The menu was an evolution. In the beginning I compromised with lentil soup and cooked breakfast, now I have built a trusting clientele, they are round to my way of thinking. Duck confit hash and ox cheek eggs benedict are winning favour.

"Lastly, maintain full control of your ship and work at full throttle. You are the boss, the buck stops with you. Put in 110% and you can't fail. And keep smiling."

Rory Sutherland of Good Brothers Wine Bar

"When starting a new business, the best advice I can give is to go in with a strong vision and stay true to that vision no matter what.

"It’s too easy to be sidetracked by day-to-day issues in a new business, but as long as you have an idea of where you want to get to in the end, you should be fine. Remember at all times that it's a marathon and not a sprint; business is hard, hours are long, but always look at the bigger picture.

"Most importantly, make sure you are having fun!"