Glasgow Beer Gardens Day One; Successes and Failures
In Glasgow, it’s rare that we get a chance to enjoy our outdoor spaces so with new spaces opening up on a day with such clear skies, it was a welcome change for the Scottish summer we’re experiencing, but how safe are they and realistically are staff taking these seriously?
Two of the most highly anticipated spaces threw open their doors this morning to the public, both SWG3 and Cranside Kitchen are ‘new’ venues – SWG3’s Galvanisers Yard has taken on the moniker Ronnie’s Bar and Bike Shop, while the Cranside Kitchen has been formed of space outside Glasgow’s Rotunda, overlooked by the popular Raddison Red.
We were lucky enough to get along to both of these booked-out spots on opening day – and I was keen to see how they’d differ from normality.
Understandably, it wasn’t all smooth sailing, however surprisingly it wasn’t just the punters breaking the still-standing social distancing rules.
First, we headed to SWG3 for the 12.15 slot – I was super excited to head along as I’d been following their hard work towards the end of lockdown to create an appropriate outdoor space for drinkers to experience an element of normality in Glasgow.
Upon approaching the venue we were asked to head in separately to be temperature checked – this involved simply walking through a short corridor while a camera – much like a CCTV unit – screened you.
Straight away, we noted that the staff greeting customers were very easily identifiable, not only from their branded tops but their facial shields. We had our masks with us and were ready to put them on if needed – we wore them in our Uber later on, but staff were working hard to keep themselves as safe as they could – even down to the jobs they were doing; i.e they seemed to be working in distinct teams, some were delivering orders while others were specifically clearing tables of empty cups.
Upon arrival you’re prompted to download the SWG3 app – this means that everything is done in a contactless manner with very limited contact between staff and customers. Also means no queues at bars which is a godsend!
From the app you can purchase anything from pizza to pints pretty smoothly – though keep your bank card handy as – annoyingly - it doesn’t retain your card details, entering them isn’t a problem but may get trickier the more rounds you get in!
You won’t go hungry at SWG3, with four Glasgow food vendors;
Nomad Wood Fired Pizza, Julie’s Kopitiam, Shwarmarama and Ga-Ga Chicken.
With this quality on site supplying the goods, it’s quite a line-up. We can’t see a pizza and not get involved, so we ordered a fennel salami and balsamic pickled onion pizza and chips to share from Nomad Wood Fired Pizza and it was magic. I do need to give a special mention to the chips as they were the closest thing to perfection I’ve tried.
Each table within the yard can seat up to six people from one social bubble, and time has gone into painting circles around each table to separate groups and keep customers safe when venturing from home into the west end of Glasgow.
But of course, they only work if people do adhere to it.
What started as a well thought-out plan did have its flaws. Marking out lines to the bathrooms is all well and good, but not supplying hand towels at a time where hand-washing is critical is quite a significant oversight so the only option being hand dryers isn’t ideal.
Nor is seeing three groups jumping from table to table, this is to be expected; there will always be people that will bend rules and push boundaries – but doing so while news teams are filming the space is incredibly risky, this alone is enough to highlight that there is much work still to be done.
For each table to have a maximum of six people, there is an issue when groups are jumping between tables, taking photos and showing little regard for guidelines.
Disappointingly, despite servers being kitted out and following the rules to a T, it appeared to be those higher up that were letting the side down with no protection; and joining in ‘banter’ with customers who by flouting the rules are placing others at risk – going straight from being involved in a TV interview to hanging out within these ‘social bubbles’ and witnessing more than seven people standing in a crowd isn’t a good look.
Perhaps by knowing the staff you are exempt from socially distancing.
Despite the behaviour of a few, we were really impressed by SWG3’s first day; and it’s understandable that there will be some things that don’t run totally smoothly and people are excited by their first outing in months. The overall feeling of our visit was that time and thought had gone into the infrastructure and concept of safety, but that the execution of it was slightly awry.
Next we headed slightly east further into Glasgow and we popped into Cranside Kitchen, we had a booking for 2.30pm and having seen tantalising shots of their cocktails and menus, we were excited.
Where SWG3 has retained its industrial edge, straight away, Cranside Kitchen appears to have had a bit more effort made with the aesthetics.
Cranside Kitchen gives off beach-bar vibes with its artificial grass flooring, pale wooden picnic style-seating and pergolas protecting a large portion of tables – surrounded by high planters and even higher still plants. It’s immediately relaxing and makes you want to kick back with friends and take time to catch up while enjoying the views across the Clyde to the other side of Glasgow.
The pop-up bar features menus from five major eateries in Glasgow;
Halloumi, Kilmurray & Co, Rioja, Pickled Ginger and La Rotunda,
There really is something for everyone.
Upon entry, there was a tall standalone hand sanitizer which is good way to ensure that customers are taking as many precautions as possible, and while tables were well-spaced they did lack the visual prompts seen at SWG3.
We opted to order from Halloumi – I’ve never been to the restaurant before so fancied trying something new. We ordered Lamb Keftedes, Houmous, Garlic Bread and Pork Gyros with a pint for Simon and a Margarita for me.
We were then told that they hadn’t actually been granted their alcohol license.
This was pretty disappointing, and I felt a little bit conned; they had been advertising heavily with their cocktails and beers menu – even that morning!
This was a bit of a let-down, so instead we got a Pepsi and a lemonade.
When our food came, we were really impressed by the speed and look of it, everything was lovely aside from the gyros – it had clearly been sitting for a period of time as the entire thing was stone cold.
We sent it back and just asked to have it removed from our bill, but they brought a new one out and it was nice but probably the most underwhelming of the dishes we tried.
Due to having had a couple of beers and having to stick with soft drinks, we decided just to book an Uber and head home.
I saw on Instagram later on that their license had been granted once we’d headed home which was annoying for us; but is great going forward.
Overall, if you’re into the aesthetic, a greater variety of food and being able to buy wine by the glass I’d suggest Cranside Kitchen; however if you’re into a pared back and chilled vibe with a decent selection of beer and slightly more convenient location – then SWG3 is certainly for you.
Have you got a table booked for one of Glasgow's beer gardens, I'd love to hear what you're looking forward to doing with our restrictions beginning to relax.