Design Focus: Rock Lobster

November 30th, 2012 | Posted in: Features,News

There’s a burgeoning Italian Corner in Glasgow’s Virginia Court, off Virginia Street, and taking equal pride of place longside Brutti Compadres next door, is Rock Lobster.
Co-owner Stephen Bonomi, of Arisaig fame, is responsible, with business partner Gordon Cameron, for a cracking Italian seafood restaurant with many tributary nods to his own family heritage.
Stephen explains, “Rock Lobster is very much a continuation of a family tradition, reflected in both the menu and the atmosphere. I come from a family of restaurateurs, and my grandmother called my father Il Duce (the leader) when 20 of us gathered as a family to eat, Don Corleone style, and this is the sort of relaxed dining experience I want to create in Rock Lobster. The name is a tribute to my father, who loved rock lobsters, and it also represents my two passions: music and food. It has nothing to do with a certain song by the B52’s.”
He continues, “I’m second generation Italian and my father was one of those who was forced to flee Tuscan Italy under Mussolini, and like many of his generation, where they eventually ended up in the world was down to pot luck. My family landed in Perth, Australia, where they opened The Bistecca Grill and Continental Grill restaurants – and there are nods to the recipes used in both establishments on my menus.”
As for the design, it was homespun by Bonomi himself, who is a seasoned pro at this type of venture, with all that Arisag experience under his belt – although he’s no longer part of that particular business. “I got fed up with Haggis Fritters” he says.
The design in Rock Lobster is more utilitarian, which is a good look, as uncluttered suits the space, which is a new build that retains certain of its traditional elements. There’s also a glut of natural light being surrounded on all sides by large plate glass windows, in the wedge-shaped area, not unlike a slice of cake, with seating down to the thin end of the wedge and the kitchen tucked away at the thick edge.
As it turns out Stephen was lucky enough to be gifted some Edward Hopper collectibles in his younger days, and these have influenced both the exterior and interior designs greatly. Stephen says, “The Hopper picture called Nighthawks (depicting the outside of a lit-up American diner at night with the occupants clearly visible) has always stayed with me, and I think that Rock Lobster looks a little bit like it from the outside at night time.”
The rest of the interior makes more of an understatement than anything else, with plain white walls, highly-polished wooden floors, wooden-top tables and fashionable white wooden seating.
There’s an equal lack of fussiness where the fittings go, like the white pendant lamp shades, and as they hang from the ceiling, they create lovely pools of light reflected in the sheen of the floor.
Lighting also creates a fitting atmosphere at the hotplate/servery, which is straight ahead as you enter, with splashes of colour courtesy of hanging baskets of red and yellow peppers, and oranges. There’s also a nifty florescent Heineken sign nestling among the wooden shelves of the gantry which is, likewise, all set against a plain white backdrop.
The only deviation from this is the wall to the left (as you enter) which is painted in a mushroom colour, displaying the Rock Lobster sign and logo. This leads downstairs to the basement, and what will eventually open as a burlesque/cabaret club in early 2013.
Stephen explains, “In my day anybody trying to make it in the music business had to get a recording contract. These days open mic and live sessions are the way in to that industry, and that’s what the club will be all about, showcasing lots of live music. In design terms we’re basing it on the Red Room in the 90s TV series Twin Peaks, with lots of red velvet curtains. Kirk Brandon of Spear of Destiny fame has already confirmed that he’ll play. We’ll also pipe a live music feed into the restaurant.”
So far the restaurant has attracted lots of positive feedback from its clientele, and it’s already fully booked for Christmas – and with a strong family focus, naturally. Says Stephen, “My family are coming in for Christmas lunch, along with some other large family groups – and this is what we envisage for the future of the business, to cater for small groups, of course, as well as throw lots of food at larger family groups in an old-fashioned
Italian-style.”
His ethos for serving the best that Scotland has to offer has was formed during his time at Arisaig, working with his father. He explains, “When my father and me were first thinking about opening the restaurant my father said to me ‘why does all the good food from Scotland end up in either Italy or Spain? So we set about rectifying this. At the same time, an old Sea Dog who looked like Captain Birdseye put it to me that we all either have an affinity with the sea or the land – and this struck a chord with me, so this is how we themed the menu at Arisaig. We hope to emulate the same levels of success in Red Lobster, and the design and location are going to of course play a key role in achieving this.”

Jason Caddy


Orry Shand named Chef of the Year at ScotHot

Mon 18th March 2019

Orry Shand, of Entier, won Scottish Chef of the Year at this year’s ScotHot at Glasgow’s SECC, sponsored by Brakes Sco... Read more.

Average spend on late-night out increases 15.5% to almost £70

Mon 18th March 2019

The average spend on a late-night out has increased 15.5% to £68.68, according to the latest Deltic Night Index, compared with £59.49 for ... Read more.

Scottish chefs set out vision to reform hospitality industry 

Thu 14th March 2019

More than 60 chefs and cooks from across Scotland have pledged their support to a new culinary manifesto, which aims to reform Scotland’s ... Read more.

SCALA boss welcomes Brexit delay

Thu 14th March 2019

Theresa May will make a third attempt to get her EU withdrawal deal through Parliament in the next week after MPS voted to reject a no-deal ... Read more.

Historic Auchtermuchty pub on the market

Wed 13th March 2019

The Forest Inn in Auchtermuchty is now on the market with offers invited for the three-storey property. Christie’s and Co in Edinburgh is ... Read more.

Hotfoot it to ScotHot

Wed 13th March 2019

Which licensee worth his or her salt isn’t looking for an opportunity to meet with suppliers, network with others to share ideas and i... Read more.

BUZZWORKS RETAINS ITS PLACE ALONGSIDE THE BEST IN UK 

Tue 12th March 2019

Buzzworks Holdings has been named in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work for in the UK for the fourth consecutive year. It recognise... Read more.

Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival returns for 2019 with foodie focus

Tue 12th March 2019

Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival returns to the city this May, from Friday 24 – Saturday 25 May, with a special foodie focus. It’s... Read more.

SCOTTISH LICENSEES RECOGNISED AT STAR AWARDS

Mon 11th March 2019

The achievements of top Scottish licensees were celebrated at Star Pubs & Bars’ annual Star Awards. The awards were the biggest ever h... Read more.

ScotHot study shines spotlight on mental health in hospitality sector

Mon 11th March 2019

Nearly 60% of people working in Scotland’s hospitality industry have experienced mental health problems at work, a new national survey has... Read more.

The Beer and Now

Thu 7th March 2019

It’s the world’s most popular drink after water and tea. There’s even a crater on the moon named after it. We’re talking about beer ... Read more.

BREWDOG LAUNCHES ITS FIRST DRAFT HOUSE PUB IN ABERDEEN

Thu 7th March 2019

BrewDog debuts its new Draft House pub called The Hop & Anchor, on Exchange Street, in its home city of Aberdeen, on Friday 8th March. I... Read more.

Whisky storms to the top of Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index with 40% annual growth

Thu 7th March 2019

The Wealth Report 2019 reveals that new entrant whisky has topped the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index (KFLII), surging in value by 40% ... Read more.

QUILMES REFRESH AND NEW NAME

Wed 6th March 2019

Morgenrot’s Argentine beer brand Quilmes has undergone a full brand revamp including a new packaging makeover of its bottles and cans, and... Read more.

GREEN INK FOR PILSNER

Wed 6th March 2019

Carlsberg UK has unveiled a new, ‘better’ Carlsberg Danish Pilsner to minimise its environmental impact, with sustainable packaging and ... Read more.

Star Pubs & Bars injects £960,000 investment into four Edinburgh pubs

Tue 5th March 2019

Two multiple operators are undertaking major investments with Star Pubs & Bars as part of a £960,000 investment in four Edinburgh pubs ... Read more.

COUNTING HOUSE DOME RESTORATION

Tue 5th March 2019

The historic centre-piece domed ceiling at The Counting House in Glasgow’s George Square, Wetherspoon’s first pub in Scotland that opene... Read more.

Design Focus: The Crescent

Tue 5th March 2019

It’s been a long time coming, but Bubbles and Rahul Randev of the R Group have finally unveiled their latest Glasgow venture, The Crescent... Read more.

Design Focus: Cold Town House

Tue 5th March 2019

Bucket loads of divine design inspiration evidently rained down on Tibbatts Abel, the people responsible for the look and feel of Cold Town ... Read more.

Diageo launches new series of films to celebrate 2019 International Women’s Day

Mon 4th March 2019

As the world comes together this International Women’s Day on March 8th to celebrate #BalanceforBetter Diageo has released a new seri... Read more.