Scottish Food & Drink News: Closures, social distancing and community help

  • The List
  • 18 March 2020
Scottish food & drink news: Closures, social distancing and community help

Locavore / credit: James Gourlay

The latest news from the hospitality industry in Scotland amidst the coronavirus pandemic

As we write, the restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has left the hospitality industry reeling, and many of the venues covered in this newsletter are altering their policy by the day to reflect government advice and rapidly changing circumstances – we suggest that you check on their social media channels for updated information.

What's abundantly clear is that hospitality businesses need a bit of love – and, if they're open, business. We salute all those showing imagination, fortitude and fellowship in facing up to the situation; also sympathy, in big measures, to all those facing really difficult decisions about how best to act.

In the light of the pandemic, we are postponing publication of our annual Eating and Drinking Guide. At the point when we start to emerge from the disruptions, our intention is to use the delayed publication of the new Eating and Drinking Guides – which for the first time will be distributed free and in separate Glasgow and Edinburgh editions – as an opportunity to support the hospitality industry in recovering from what will be a dark and difficult period. We'll keep you posted on publication plans through the usual channels.


Glasgow is feeling the uncertainty of the current corona situation with some venues shutting up shop early such as the Gannet or The Hug and Pint – who have set up a crowdfunding campaign and a delivery service to help save the venue and act as a hardship fund for its staff. Other Glasgow spots going dark for now include Ox and Finch and their two-month-old Ka Pao.

So far Edinburgh has a few cases of hibernation, or 'mothballing' as the whisky industry term it. Tattu has closed to the public until further notice (setting-up a delivery service). Café Konj closed its doors for the foreseeable future, as has February opening Chessel's Bistro.

Many restaurants, bars and cafés are staying open until government protocol tells them otherwise. You'll find a new social distancing code of conduct in place at most cafés – such as takeaway only, card/contactless payments only, no reusable cups, and a limit on bodies in the place.

Glasgow's Locavore, like many, is juggling social responsibility with the need to maintain business as far as possible. Their Southside grocery shop – hand sanitiser at the door – is open and well-stocked (with an expanded online shop for their vegbox scheme), the café is doing takeaway-only food and drink, as is their new spot on Renfrew Street.

Cafés in Edinburgh are generally asking for contactless card payments where possible and some have switched to take-away only. Lots of take-away places, like Orinoco on Leith Walk, are still operating as normal, but expect to be greeted with a friendly squirt of hand-sanitiser and staff to wipe the door handle with an antibacterial wipe after you leave.

Bars likewise are making the tough decision. In Glasgow, for example, 226 Gallowgate has shut up shop and extended its kitchen and staff for community needs, while across the road The Gate is open for a restorative dram or two with distancing measures in place of course – no food, bartenders in gloves, and capacity limits.

The majority of bars and pubs in Edinburgh are currently operating as normal, though most events like pub quizzes and live music nights have been cancelled. Wine bar Smith & Gertrude has re-purposed as an off-licence, while Leith Gin has put the gin distilling on hold to produce hand-sanitiser. They're giving it out to locals and looking to the public to donate more empty bottles to put it in.

Scottish Food & Drink news: Closures, social distancing and community help

The Little Chartroom / credit: Isabel McCabe


Many restaurants and cafés remain open for sit-in service – with plenty of patronage still happening. Glasgow's Cail Bruich, for one, has shifted the restaurant around to maximise social distancing, plus they'll give you 10% off the bill for your support – at sister bar Brett too. If diners do want to cancel a booking, they ask for a reschedule. As with any venue in these uncertain times – it helps to let them know you'll be coming back when this all blows over.

In Edinburgh L'escargot restaurants (Bleu and Blanc) have taken away tables to give diners space to socially distance. Some Edinburgh restaurants are proposing sit-in alternatives. Wedgwood and The Little Chartroom have both started a take-away service if you call or book online in advance. Merienda have started home deliveries, including food for the refrigerator, and Ostara are out delivering fresh juice and Artisan Larder hampers. You can support some local restaurants remotely by purchasing a voucher for use later on in the year.

With the Scottish government currently prohibiting any event over 500 people, and many more being pulled, delayed or postponed across the board, there are some still happening – check the venues for details – and other ways to get involved.

Brewgooder, the charity beer brand on a mission to bring clean water to those without, might have had to thin out the social narrowing aspects of its Global Gathering on 20-22 March, asking participating breweries worldwide to follow their government's guidelines. But socially distant beer-lovers can get procuring from some of the participating breweries – eg Tempest, Williams Bros, Drygate and Stewart Brewing – and have a party for one at home.

The events calendar at The Glad Café in Glasgow, which remains open for business, may be dropping acts who are unable to attend due to travel restrictions, but others persist where possible. And the venue asks that folks generously think of their cancelled event ticket money as a donation to help them survive, rather than cause for a refund.

Follow The List's Staying In Is the New Going Out articles for more recommendations, alternative online events, press releases, refund policies, restaurant deliveries and further general information.