DRAM’s New Year Gongs

January 10th, 2017 | Posted in: Features

Every year our Editor Susan Young takes a look at the exploits of people and the companies in the trade to award DRAM’s very own New Year Gongs. Read on to discover our recipients for 2016 – a truly eventful year for the Scottish on-trade.


Oli Norman, one of the guys behind pubs such as Sloan’s, Brel and the newly acquired Griffin, and the man behind Itison, was last year’s Last Man Standing at the Hospitality Industry Trust annual dinner which meant that he had to do a challenge – he opted for a cycle ride that lasted a few hundred miles… and he did it just before he re-opened the Griffin. During his cycle ride, which he did with his brother Ben, he bumped into Nicola Sturgeon… only Oli could manage that PR Coup, and I don’t mean that he ran her over!


This year this goes to David Wither – having arrived at the DRAM Awards with Kevin Doyle he discovered he had left his phone in the taxi… a quick phone call to the driver and it was luckily retrieved. Then during the course of the evening he left it down… once again it was retrieved. But lastly on the way home, having shared a car with Graeme Arnott, he managed to swap evening jackets with him… and didn’t realise until the car had moved away from his house leaving him phoneless and keyless. So he had to clamber over a gate and wake his wife up!



James and Louise Rusk (above) are ‘awesome’. A great couple who have opened their third venue the Spanish Butcher and have renamed their company, Rusk & Rusk. Their enthusiasm and energy is a real tonic. There is nothing laid-back about this dynamic duo and I look forward to seeing their business develop even further. As James would say “Awesome!”


This goes to Billy Lowe, or perhaps it should go to his pals… since Hibs won the Scottish Cup, Billy has taken every opportunity to press the matter home. He even had baubles on his Xmas tree celebrating the fact, and has just about bought out all the replica trophies, not to mention dog bowls! I’m surprised he didn’t spend the remainder of last year on the “Persevered Scottish Cup Trophy Tour”… or maybe he was behind it! I’ve never seen a man so happy. But he is also celebrating the fact that after a tiny wee hiatus he is now back in the trade having bought The Links and Malones last year.


It came as a surprise to a few folk that I know when it was announced that Kenny MacAskill, former Justice Minister, has now taken up a post on the Scottish Licensed Trade Association’s External Committee… this is the man who was instrumental in driving through (excuse the pun) the drink driving legislation, which has probably done more harm to the trade than any other legislation brought in during the last 20 years. Now that he is no longer banging a political drum he’s now reverted to supporting the opposition – the trade itself. I’m sure his advice to licensees in rural pubs, who have suffered the most, will be interesting.


Last year I wasn’t far off with my chicken prediction and since then various chicken venues including the fab one from Michael Bergson Buck’s Bar, have opened. But this year I am thinking it is Apps… to make your life easier that is the latest trend. Kiltr has launched an app which allows you to offer your customers free wi-fi, the payback is that you can sell advertising spaces to brands, which customers have to flick through before they get into the free wi-fi – a win-win. And you control the content you put on the app. Meanwhile, Ross Gourlay at Glencrest has developed one called TipMyServer which, in summary, is an app that allows a dinner or customer to give a tip direct to their server or servers or any other registered staff member in any environment such as restaurants, pubs, clubs, hotels etc via the app.


This goes to Niall Hansard of TLT – the licensing lawyer did what no other licensing lawyer in Scotland has ever done – 6 days – 6 licensing boards, and a two-day appeal to boot. Talk about dedication!


When the team from Gallery 48 came to the Scottish Bar and Pub Awards – owner MacKay brought along his father who was also in the licensed trade. And he brought him up to stage when they won the Caledonian Brewery Award for Innovation. He was as proud as punch and even managed a pose with our dancers… lovely.


Simon Magnus departed for Australia with his hubby Tama to start a new life. Simon who is very well known in the trade was latterly at The Blythswood, but prior to that, he was at Gleneagles, The Hilton and Oran Mor. Our loss is Brisbane’s gain. Good luck to him and hubby. And hope to catch up with him at the Brisbane Commonwealth Games next year.


This definitely goes to Euan Bain and Tommy McMillan – the two of them turned wearing almost identical outfits on a night out last year… from the colour of their shoes to their tweed waistcoats. The rest of us felt under-dressed, we obviously missed the memo!


As anyone who knows Donald Macleod of Holdfast will tell you … he is mad about music. And late last year he was part of the consortium that won the Rock Radio franchise. So no doubt we will hear a lot more about him this year, but I thought this funniest story Donald told this year was about his charity cycle ride around the islands in his lycra… the most embarrassing part of the whole trip was from where he got off the train with his bike and had to cycle to his office! To the amusement of everyone that saw him.


There must have been about three months last year when Steve Graham of Manorview was mentioned to me just about every day! I thought he was employing a personal PR guru. But joking aside, he and his team, are certainly going for it and not just in a business sense Manorview opened Boclair House last year, and it has beefed up its management team, but boss Steve also likes a sporting challenge whether cycling to Paris in 24 hours from London (non-stop) or competing in Triathlons… I shudder to think what his challenge for this year will be!


This year I think this must go to me… not only did I stand up Harry Hood for lunch (although I was ill), but I managed to go to Torphichen instead of Mid Calder to see Iain Pert (although to be fair his former pub was the Torphichen Inn, it just wasn’t in Torphichen, and last but not least I amused the folk at Meldrum House greatly when I mistook their memory card for a fridge magnet! There are a hundred and other things… as my team will tell you, but we don’t fortunately, have space!

The following two tabs change content below.
Susan Young
Susan Young is a journalist who has spent the last 20 years editing the DRAM. Prior to that, she spent a decade working in Public Relations and Events dealing with clients as diverse as Cumbernauld Development Agency and James Burrough Distillers. Her knowledge of the Scottish licensed trade is extensive and she also instigated the first ever Scottish licensed trade awards which have evolved into the Scottish Bar and Pub Awards.
Susan Young

Latest posts by Susan Young (see all)

Dunnet Bay Distillery launches winter edition Rock Rose Gin

Tue 12th December 2017

Dunnet Bay Distillery, the UK’s most northerly mainland distillery, has revealed its final seasonal release of the year, Winter Edition Ro... Read more.

Nacho Novo opens NN10

Tue 12th December 2017

Rangers legend Nacho Novo is to open his own bar in Glasgow’s Paisley Road West. Situated on the site of the old Angels bar, NN10 – Nach... Read more.

Mediterranean move for Sloan and Gizzi

Tue 12th December 2017

Paul Sloan and Mario Gizzi have opened Mezzidakia, a new Mediterranean fusion restaurant next to Chaakoo in Glasgow’s St. Vincent Street. ... Read more.

Gaucho opens in Scotland

Tue 12th December 2017

Gaucho Group has opened its first Scottish branch of the Argentinian-steak house brand in Edinburgh’s St Andrew’s Square. The £1.5 mill... Read more.

Design Focus: White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar

Tue 12th December 2017

When it comes to direction, Mark Fraser and Michael Spink of The Compass Group don’t seem to have any problem working out which way they a... Read more.

Licensee Interview: Michael Kilkie and Neil Connolly

Tue 12th December 2017

Chef Michael Kilkie and bar operator Neil Connolly are no strangers to winning awards, and the two slick operators are going for gold with t... Read more.

Design Focus: Inn Deep

Fri 8th December 2017

Inn Deep, which is situated right beside the River Kelvin in Glasgow’s West End, is a real labour of love for managers Amy Williams, H... Read more.

Admiral Taverns deal completes

Fri 8th December 2017

C&C Group and Proprium Capital Partners have finalised their investment deal with Admiral Taverns, in partnership with Admiral Taverns&#... Read more.

Nam Tuk Tram Stop

Fri 8th December 2017

Nam Tuk Tram Stop is a quirky pan-Asian restaurant which has just opened at the foot of Byres Road in Glasgow. This new restaurant – t... Read more.

Design Focus: Drum & Monkey

Fri 8th December 2017

The problem with refurbishing a classic pub like Glasgow’s Drum and Monkey is, how do you keep its charm but bring it up to date and g... Read more.

Design Focus: Diablo Loco

Fri 8th December 2017

If you want a bit of cheering up, the newest venue from The Signature Pub Group could be just the thing. Diablo Loco is a bright and cheerfu... Read more.

Heineken signs deal for Cruzcampo with LWC

Wed 6th December 2017

Heineken has signed a new, exclusive Brand Agency import contract with LWC for Cruzcampo in the UK. Neil Williamson, Head of Sales for Expor... Read more.

Balvenie releases Compendium Chapter 3

Wed 6th December 2017

The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter 3: Secrets of the Stock Model has been released. Comprised of five extremely rare single cask single mal... Read more.

A winning team – David & Kirstie Stein

Tue 5th December 2017

Business is in David Stein and his sister Kirstie’s blood – the brother and sister team not only run an award-winning butchers, David St... Read more.

10 Dollar Shake mixes it up with Salt & Sauce and Melt for new oil & gas events

Tue 5th December 2017

Aberdeen-based drinks company 10 Dollar Shake, has teamed up with caterer, Salt & Sauce, and a local grilled cheese toastie shop, Melt, ... Read more.

New Italian in Bearsden

Tue 5th December 2017

Carlo Andreucetti has opened Amici di Carlo in Bearsden. The restaurant and delicatessen not only provides a dine-in experience but also pro... Read more.

Gordon & MacPhail launch new online store

Tue 5th December 2017

Gordon & MacPhail has launched a new online platform, which aims to enhance its customers’ digital experience while helping the brand ... Read more.

Social media provides sales boost for Tennent’s but C&C’s profit drops

Tue 5th December 2017

Tennent’s owner C&C Group has seen a drop in operating profits of 4.9% to €50.5 million for the six months ended August 31, with rev... Read more.

Admiral Taverns & G1 partner to buy 29 pubs from Heineken

Tue 5th December 2017

Admiral Taverns has revealed it has bought, in partnership with G1 Group, 29 pubs from Heineken’s pub arm, Star Pubs & Bars. G1 Group ... Read more.

Piccolino opens in Edinburgh

Tue 5th December 2017

Luigi Aseni, the man behind Boteco du Brasil has created a new Italian restaurant called Piccolino in Edinburgh at High Riggs St. The new re... Read more.