The Arches reborn: legendary Glasgow venue's revival is well underway
- Laura Muetzelfeldt
- 5 April 2018
With a focus on food and drink, Laura Muetzelfeldt gets a taste of the new operation
What comes across when speaking to the people behind Argyle St Arches is a respect for the multi-purpose events space that once occupied the building and for the broad demographic to which it meant so much. The Arches was an institution in Glasgow, with a world-famous clubbing venue – Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin, Sven Väth to name a few; and Daft Punk played their first UK show there. Its closure in 2015, following drugs-related incidents, was met with anger, sadness and disbelief by many, including Scotland's leading creative figures as other aspects of the not-for-profit organisation, such as the innovative theatre – subsidised by the club nights – also had to close.
So it's hard to disagree with Hilary Goodfellow: 'It's a space that deserves so much more than lying derelict.' She is responsible for booking the food traders for Platform, a new weekly indoor street food market open on Fridays and Saturdays (noon till 10pm) and Sundays (noon til 6pm). 'It's giving an affordable platform to genuinely authentic traders that all have their own backstory,' explains Goodfellow, 'in a postcode they ordinarily wouldn't be able to afford.' It's aimed at diners perhaps frustrated by city centre options, who want to avoid chains, and might be eating on the hop. Although many will linger – there's a family area with free face painting, kids' activities, and room to play. And while it's a different operation, there are again DJs helping fill the space. 'The tunes are good and the drinks are good,' says Goodfellow. 'People that used to come clubbing are now coming back ten years later and having a different experience.'
There are acclaimed vendors, including ShrimpWreck, The Crema Caravan and Babu Bombay Street Kitchen, as well as those newer to the scene, such as Ronan Vallelly from Ginger & Chilli, who has gone from DJing at the Arches to cooking in Argyle St Arches. Vegan options abound, and kids/taster portions make it affordable to sample a wider range. Wherever you go, the food is the star, from Mimi's Takoyaki's steamed octopus balls, which will soon make way for her high-end slider menu, to Chick + Pea's halloumi fries. All are signed up to Scotland's Food Charter, as Goodfellow explains: 'It's about wanting to make sure that there is an accountability, and that we know exactly what we're selling'.
Also sharing the space is a company that they have been roasting coffee in the city for over 175 years. Thomson's Coffee Roasters occupy the former Arches café and managing director Russell Jenkins is hopeful the big, huge industrial roaster ('the first of its kind in Scotland, still the only one') will soon be hoisted into position above the mezzanine. It'll be an effective statement of intent – this isn't a café with a roaster, but the other way round: 'Some places have small roasters and a busy café,' says Jenkins. 'We want the café to be inside a roastery.' The onsite bakery already provides bread and pizzas and plans are also afoot for a trading and training space. 'That's phase two,' Jenkins explains. As well as a machine showroom for trying before you buy, they plan to offer certified barista training and courses for coffee-lovers.
As for the future, Jenkins says they'd like to get other businesses in, concentrating on small producers. They also have other 'zany ideas' he says, but are giving nothing away, and it's here that you sense that the building is in safe hands. He would no doubt agree with Hilary Goodfellow, who sums up the ethos: 'The way we look at it is that we are greater than the sum of our parts.' That core belief is what may well turn Argyle St Arches into a new Glasgow favourite.