Design Focus: 1912, South Bridge St, Bathgate


The newly op ened 1912 bistro in Bathgate is situated in an iconic building and a building that suffered from a lack of care and attention. That is until brother and sister combination, David and Kirsty Stein took over.

A unique building, splitting two streets, the sandstone finish to the building has been refreshed and supported by a beautifully modern three-wall glass front that gives the building a huge presence in a busy part of town.
As you walk in, it’s the height of the room that initially grabs your attention, before the modern staircase takes your eyes a walk up to the small mezzanine overlooking the modern bistro below. The room has a trianglular-like shape with industrial chic décor.
The bar faces you as you walk into the bistro, and it’s compact with a stainless steel bar and frame. Beneath it you will find Heineken’s new Frio drinks system.
The state-of-the-art single or two-tap dispense system has a built-in energy efficient cooler, which reduces running costs and improves draught pints.
Foot rests at the bar are actually the result of a design and ergonomic challenge, which owner David Stein met by designing a single pipe system which are actually radiators.
Explains David, “Because the walls are all glass, there was nowhere to put radiators and that created a real problem. I designed a single pipe heating system that runs alongside the bar, below knee level which hugs the bar. It’s really eco-friendly, but also looks really good. On top of that, people sitting at the bar can rest their feet on it, so it’s got several uses and is a great feature.” However recently it’s not the heating that has been the issue but the sun. Because of the glass front to the building, sunlight causes a real problem in terms of heating the venue. As such General Manager, John Owens and his team had to close for a period last week to get new air conditioning installed by Subcool.
The building was first completed in 1912, hence the name, and previously served as a hotel, a scone shop, a casino, a dance hall, a Ford car dealership, an insurance brokers, and latterly, a carpet store. David and Kirsty were familiar with the building because they run the local butchers, and already have a deli, tearoom and off-sales round the corner. Says Kirsty, “We knew we could do something with it.”
David and his team stripped it right back to expose the brickwork and original wooden beams, as well as leaving new steel beams on show.
“At no point previously would the wooden beams have been on show, so the fact they are is really nice,” David added. “The wood used throughout was reclaimed from the flooring at the local school gym hall. And Hargreaves Reclamation did a great job on that. In 1912 when the building was finished they put in a concrete floor, a new concept at the time, but one which we had a few problems with. We couldn’t get the wooden floor to sit level, so I started hacking away at the concrete with a grinder.
“That started to expose the real beauty of the floor, which has shades of red sandstone from the dust incorporated in it from the building’s brickwork. We got specialist flooring company, Corecut to work at polishing the concrete and it is a really unique finish to the floor – it’s a terrazzo tile look.”
The dark finish to the wooden tables offers a nice contrast to the natural light that floods the building, with colourful seated cushions on the adjoining window benches offering a welcome splash of colour.
That is accentuated by the array of reds on the high up light shades and spectacular teardrop shaped speakers that look like raindrops caught on camera as they drip towards the ground, radiating a warm red as well as the relaxing music perfectly fitted to the ambience of the bistro.
The attention to detail and love with which the building has been restored, certainly seems to have been appreciated by customers.
John tells us, “We have been very busy since we opened four weeks ago. People do come in for a pint, but it’s not really a bar at the moment, it’s more of a bistro. We get a lot of people on a Friday and Saturday who want something a little different, who want the city bar experience but don’t want to have to go into Edinburgh or Glasgow, they want something on their doorstep.”
The bistro has 70 covers and is licensed for 100 but the kitchen itself is very small. But Mike Harper from Caterfix Scotland, who supplied all the catering equipment, including ovens, hobs, coffee machine, even dishwashers, is very impressed with the end product and believes it maximises its potential.
He told DRAM, “We were restricted by the size of the premises and some of the space might be tight behind the scenes, but it is a building that maximises the chance to make money from the asset. We are very impressed with the finished product. We believe we have given them the facilities to remain busy at any time of the day. They have a kitchen that works well to provide breakfasts, lunch and even dinner, as well as snacks.”
And John agrees, “We can adapt to provide customers what they want and we’re happy to listen to them – if they would like to see a new dish on the menu we are happy to accommodate them. I really love that freedom to make changes. We can genuinely make the difference for customers.”

Category: Features
Tags: 1912, Bathgate, bistro, Caterfix Scotland, DESIGN, Subcool