A once loved landmark of the Edinburgh buoyant bar scene – Harry’s Bar & Grill has just been given a £375K revamp. Warren Campbell reports.
Edinburgh’s Harry’s Bar & Grill has re-opened after a major revamp. The once legendary bar has retained the same frontage – albeit with a refresh, but that, and it’s name, are just about all that new owners, The Shilling Group have kept.
John Duncan, Area Manager of The Shilling Group, told DRAM, “There were many debates whether or not to keep the name. At first, I was adamant we needed to change it but we collectively decided, as a gesture of goodwill, to its previous customers and the overall legacy of the bar to keep it.”
While Michael McGuigan, The Shilling Group’s boss said, “I wanted a complete change for the venue – not just a renovation! I didn’t want the venue to feel like a basement and I think we have successfully achieved this by raising the ceiling and making better use of the space.”
Guy Morgan of Morgan McDonnell Architects worked closely with John and Michael to create the venue’s design concept. According to John, inspiration was taken from ‘Manhattanesque’ bars like P.J. Clarke’s, featured in HBO show ‘Madmen’. He said, “We wanted to create a ‘hip’ stripped back bar that showcases a fine balance between opulent and rustic.”
The hanging baskets and minimalist setting suggest to onlookers that the new Harry’s is a tranquil haven. As you enter through the glass door, those familiar with the old Harry’s will immediately see that the bar has been stripped back to basics showcasing its original stonework. The heightened ceiling reveals all the necessary heat ducting and makes a feature of it. While new floor to ceiling French windows, at the opposite end, fill the spacious bar with natural light.
An interesting feature that catches the eye is the backlit wooden lath (a thin, narrow strip of straight-grained wood) on the left wall as you enter. The lath looks worn and distressed with obvious gaps throughout that have been cleverly fitted with minimal soft lighting giving the venue a warm and welcoming ambience. This detail has also been fitted at the front of the bar evoking an almost Asian feel.
As you proceed further into the venue, you will notice original stone and brickwork with dark grey, almost black, wooden panels. It has a grey concrete floor throughout.
The bar is situated all along the right hand side of the bar, while an open kitchen and dining area are situated to the left.
The venue now seats 80 covers and has been fitted with black Chesterfield-inspired fixed seating throughout. Where the dance floor used to be, there is now a raised restaurant area complete with oak wooden tables, all with copper edgings. While the open kitchen is exactly where original bar at Harry’s was situated. The new bar, on the opposite side boasts a long copper bar top and some custom-made copper artwork by Kirsty Smith. The back bar is back-lit and house a wide array of bottles.
Collectively, the interior’s use of stone and exposed brickwork and button-backed leather creates a perfect harmony of shabby chic and luxury. It certainly marks a complete change from the previous Harry’s, which flaunted floral wallpaper and traditional fixtures you would typically see in an old man’s pub.
The open plan kitchen, which has has been fitted on the left hand side of the bar, where the old L-shaped traditional looking bar used to be, and it features, the grill of the moment – a new charcoal Josper grill.
There is now a rear garden terrace revellers can access through the glass doors at the back. The cosy garden area, similar to the front courtyard, oozes a natural and almost amicable vibe with its white brickwork, hanging baskets aplenty and the surrounding greenery. There is also a luxuriously fitted garden room that is equipped with suede seating, wooden panels and a traditional log fireplace to keep customers sheltered from the unpredictable Scottish climate.
The new Harry’s is certainly different, and it is already proving a hit with customers.
Harry’s Bar & Grill
7B Randolph Pl,