Glasgow isn’t known for its sunshine but a little sunny spot has recently arrived in the form of Sugar Dumplin. The Caribbean rum shack, located on the 2nd floor of Princes Square, is a joint venture from Norris Panton, Craig Ince and Ross Mackay offering up authentic Caribbean cuisine and serving over 40 different rums.
Princes Square is probably the last place you would expect to find a rum shack but owners Norris and Craig, who are both originally from the Caribbean, wanted to share their home life with people in the U.K. Says Norris, “We couldn’t bring the beaches or the sunshine so we decided to bring a rum shack.” He continues, “People in the Caribbean go to a rum shack like the Italians go to a coffee shop. It’s part of our culture”.
So, why did they choose Glasgow for the first Sugar Dumplin venue? Norris explains, “Glasgow’s an amazing city, full of so many bold, independent businesses. You don’t need to be part of a big chain to succeed in Glasgow. We realised that and we rolled with it.”
Unlike some of the other bars and restaurants that reside in Princes Square, there’s no frills and fancies here. The interiors are bright and loud, everything is mismatched and a little rustic. Upturned canoe boats with the Sugar Dumplin logo emblazoned on the side are used for seating along with a variety of chairs of primary colours. As you enter, it’s clear there is no split between the restaurant and the bar area, it’s all mixed together with couches of students drinking next to after-work groups having a bite to eat. Norris explains, “Sugar Dumplin is a place for everyone to gather and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere. No airs or graces, just good authentic food and drink.”
The walls in the rum shack are different everywhere you look. A map of the Caribbean, palm trees and painted ridged metal also with the Sugar Dumplin logo, run along the left hand side of the space. A huge graffiti like painting of Bob Marley is painted on the wall on the other side of the shack. The walls are knocked out in places to reveal the natural stonework accentuating the inside/outside ‘anything goes’ vibes. It’s the kind of place you’d feel comfortable kicking your feet up while sipping a pina colada out of a pineapple. The design team have clearly been very resourceful in the creation of Sugar Dumplin. Old industrial light fittings create a bright sunny atmosphere, old bottles have been used to create its own unique rum bottle chandelier and recycled rum barrels have been reinstated as tables.
The bar itself is like a mini rum shack within the rum shack. The roofs covered in ridged metal roofing and pillars of the bar are covered in logos of world-renowned rums. Neon signage reading ‘Jerk Pit’ points to the open kitchen beside the bar where you can watch the chefs cook up some comforting Caribbean classics like curried goat and rice and peas. The bar staff are kitted out in Hawaiian shirts and keen to suggest a cocktail based on your tastes. All that’s required to complete the vibes is some sun and a beach…
Unfortunately, there’s no beach or shining sun, but there are beach huts. Four little unique huts feature at the back of the restaurant. Says Norris, “It’s our take on booths. They just add a little more to the experience. You can still enjoy the atmosphere in here while having your own little intimate space for you and your friends.” There’s seating for up to ten people in each beach hut and you can book them in advance for a small gathering of friends. Beside the beach huts, there is also a small raised area cordoned off with white fencing resembling a beach front restaurant.
Of all the cool and quirky features that are here, it’s the little extras that really make the rum shack unique. Old Pepsi and Dr. Pepper crates are discarded in different places around the restaurant. Students from the Glasgow School of Art have created original artwork that hangs on the walls and a parrot hangs on his perch beside some of the high tables at the bar. Everywhere you look there’s something different that catches your eye and is bound to put a smile in your face.
If you’d like a taste of the Caribbean but can’t afford the pricey holiday, Sugar Dumplin is the place to visit. I’ve had my taster, I liked it and now it’s time to start saving for the holiday…
By Yasmine Gibb