Design Focus: Garvie & Co, Milngavie

IGarvieMG 0093

The Cross Keys in Milngavie’s Station Road has been totally transformed by new owners Rahul and Bubbles Randev. The brothers, who bought the pub from Punch a year ago, have turned what was a tired pub into a stylish restaurant, bar and bakery with a Whisky bar too.
What was basically a pub with a small coffee area has now become a stylish two storey eating and drinking venue.
Bubbles told DRAM, “We had to take the entire building back to the sandstone and rebuild completely and this included re-rendering the building too.”
The building sits on a corner on a pedestrian precinct, and the Randev’s have made the most of this with cafe-style windows which open out to the street. Come the better weather this corner is a real suntrap. Says Bubbles, “We have planning to put tables chairs outside.”
When you enter Garvie & Co (named after the local lemonade company) the ceiling has been removed at the front of the bar and you can see all the way to the wood panelled rafters and to the upstairs whisky bar and restaurant. A decorative brass and steel railing around the mezzanine is the main feature here, with around 20 hanging industrial style glass lights creating a talking point. The railing is used as a design feature throughout the building, for instance, to create the frame around the bar, and elsewhere too.
The colours are teal blue and cream throughout with copious amounts of new wood panelling and stripped back stone walls. It’s a contemporary but classic look. Says Bubbles, “I think it has a nice feel now. Before, when it was the Cross Keys, the low ceiling in the bar gave it a claustrophobic feel. Now that we have opened it up it feels much airer, and we have had very positive feedback.”
A new parquet oak floor has been put in on the ground floor which leads through to a tiled area which boasts the bakery and coffee shop. But as you come in it’s the large brushed copper bar that grabs your attention.
Says Manager, John Rafferty, “We are not encouraging people to stand at the bar, but take a seat. We don’t have sports here anymore. It’s got more of a relaxed vibe.”
In the bar area (and in the upstairs whisky bar) the tables have a chess-board like appearance. Says Bubbles, “We sourced them for our other venue The Richmond, but they were a bit big for there, so we have swapped them around. They are quite intricate in that the table tops are made from individual blocks of wood.”
In this area the chairs are upholstered in grey Harris tweed. The seating and the tables differentiate the bar area from the coffee area, which also has a large display of tempting cakes. But it is the flooring which grabs your attention. Says Bubbles, “We wanted to give the impression that the tiles had always been here. Like we had rolled back the carpet and discovered it. Instead it took three to four weeks to lay.” It was worth the effort; the mosaic tiled floor in blue, terracotta, cream and white is lovely.
This coffee/cafe area is split from the serving area by a waist height wall divider tiled in blue. The tables here and the seating is more utilitarian with dark rosewood and leather backed seats.
There has a lot of attention to detail with this refurbishment and its not until you start looking at everything closely that you can really see it. There is a continuing theme of ridges – on the ceilings, on the pillars and even in the picture frames but it all hangs together (excuse the pun). For instance the ceiling of the cafe area is wood panelled, and it looks like the bar front is too, but on closer inspection this is a matching metal panelling and the mirrors on the back bar are slightly tilted and really reflect the light. The framed photographs which are scattered around the building in various frames (all selected to fit in with the design) were taken by photographer Martin Gray who looked at the community and landscapes that surrounded Garvie & Co. Says Martin, “The pictures were taken to show Garvie’s in relation to the rest of the world. It was like an art project for me. People have come in and said for example, ‘that’s the church I got married in.’”
Further through, past the coffee/cafe area, there is the 120-cover restaurant. It has its own serving bar which as John explains, “Is slightly more practical finish than the main bar, with a marble bar top and back bar.”
Again the furniture here and the flooring differentiates it from the cafe area– here we are back to the oak parquet flooring and slightly finer furniture, and at the front of the restaurant the ceiling has been removed. Again you see up to the rafters and upstairs, which has a similar look to the front of the building, but the wall here also has a gas feature fireplace in the exposed brick wall which seems suspended in the chimney-like wall.
Downstairs there is a back area here which is carpeted. It has a real European art-deco feel with large semi-circular leather booths and a mirrored wall. Both Bubbles and John said this was one of their favourite areas. It was one of mine too.
The restaurant has its own door, which means that patrons do not need to walk the length of the building to enter. There is an open oak stair case which leads upstairs, and this area has a gallery feel to it. There is also a museum-style piece Garvies equipment in a glass case here.
The restaurant situated on this floor is spacious and airy and as you head through towards the whisky bar which is situated above the bar area, you pass the toilets. There is a row of half a dozen cubicles but each cubicle is complete. Bubbles explains, “The new way of doing toilets is to have everything in the cubicle – so the wash hand basin is in there too. We don’t have female and male toilets they are all unisex.” Certainly they are beautifully finished with pale blue mosaic tiling and modern fittings.
The whisky bar features a back bar which is essential and has small display boxes which house the whisky beautifully. A few of the bottles are encased. Bubbles explains, “These ones are extra special and cost around £500 a bottle.”
All in all Garvie & Co looks and feels great. As Bubbles concludes, “We’ve been in business 27 years now and we have learned as we have gone along. I think it looks quite rustic here but contemporary too,and we are very pleased with the result.”