December 2nd, 2015 | Posted in: Events

80 years and 80 facts celebrating Rogano’s birthday.

1    Graham Lironi wrote the book ‘Rogano’ about Glasgow’s favourite restaurant. It was published in 2009 to coincide with its 75th birthday.

2    Lynnet Leisure has owned Rogano since 2006. Boss James Mortimer sealed the deal after bidding £1m more than he wanted to pay! The asking price was £6m.

3    James Mortimer first came to Rogano as a guest of Tennent’s. He said, “After I bought my first pub they took me to Rogano for a lobster. Now they buy you a burger.”
4    In 1874 The Bodega Spanish wine cellar opened at 11 Royal Exchange Square… this was the original name of the premises.

5    It changed its name to Rogano Spanish wine cellars, when the manager of Bodega, James Henry Roger bought it with a silent business partner Mr Anderson. The name Rogano comes from combining the first three letters of Roger with the first three letters of another!

6    James Henry Roger was part of the bodyguard to Queen Victoria when she opened the Loch Katrine waterworks.

7    In 1935 Don Grant bought the premises and opened it as a seafood restaurant and wine shop.

8    Rogano is styled in the art deco style of the Queen Mary ocean liner which was built at the John Brown & Co shipyard in Clydebank.

9     The walnut wood panelling in Rogano, some say, was originally intended for the Queen Mary. It was allegedly supplied by the foremen of the John Brown shipyard who used it to pay their Rogano bar bills.

10 The beautiful stained glass and the seascape mural in Rogano was designed and painted by Charles Cameron Baillie.

11    John Thomson, who was with Weddell and Inglis, was the architect.

12    The first manager of the Rogano was Swiss.

13    The bright yellow signage is made of Vitrolite.

14    In the late 1940’s owner Don Grant helped establish the Scottish Hotel School in Glasgow.

15    Don Grant was 57 when he died in 1957.

16    Don Grant’s children Donald and Valerie inherited Rogano. Donald was licencee of Rogano until he died in 1982.

17    The ‘best cocktail maker in the world’ at the time was considered to be Rogano bartender ‘Uncle John’ or John Mitchell. His bartending career at Rogano started in 1942 and his most popular cocktail was the dry martini.

18    Rogano originally had a Liquor Bar and a Cocktail Bar.

19    The Rogano telephone number was Central 6637.  Today it is 0141 248 4055.

20 Rogano once closed at 10pm.

21    Valerie also opened a Danish restaurant in Glasgow called Skandia, and also owned the Lomond Castle Hotel in Loch Lomond.

22    Donald and Valerie ran Rogano until the mid 1980’s, and after her brother’s death Valerie sold the business to a joint venture between Alloa and Ken McCulloch in 1983.

23    Rogano was renovated in 1984 – Ken McCulloch credits John Mackenzie of Alloa with the creation of the Rogano, as we know it. He says, “I could never have transformed Rogano if it had not been for John Mackenzie…”

24    The architect that oversaw the 1984 transformation was John Thomson. His father was involved in the original Rogano design.

25    The carpets in Rogano were made by the same company that made the Queen Mary’s original carpets. The speckle in them, was part of liner carpet design, due to the fact that people got sea sick on liners.

26    During the 1984 renovation the wrought iron Spanish Sherry Bar and the long oyster and seafood bar were removed.

27    The large oyster shell that sits above Table 16 was donated by Livy Neil, a fishmonger to Rogano.

28    The Rogano re-opened on 26th June 1984.

29    The chef in 1984 was Ferrier Richardson.

30    John Mitchell and Jim Wilson were on the bar in 1984.

31    Gordon Yuill eventually took over the managers job from Hugh MacShannon, having previously been the bar manager at Rogano… He became ‘Mr Rogano’.

32    Cafe Rogano opened downstairs in 1986.

33    In 1985 Ken McCulloch was bought out of the joint venture by Alloa Brewery. Gordon Yuill continued in the role of Manager working for Alloa.

34    In 2005 Rogano was given a spruce up with a “sympathetic” refurbishment.

35    Over the course of 20 years, ownership of Rogano changed in line with the sale of its parent company. Latterly it was owned by the Spirit Group who put it up for sale in 2006.

36    It was sold to James Mortimer after a sale price of £6m was sought in 2006.

37    Rogano’s administrative legend was Miss Gilly. At times, over her 25-year tenure, her husband Jim, and son Simon, both worked at the restaurant.

38 GM Ann Patterson has worked at Rogano since 1986, with a brief stint at The Buttery.

39 Chef Andy Cumming has also been involved with Rogano since 1987.

40 Rogano is renowned for its legendary fish soup.

41 Around 20 chefs work in Rogano.

42 Rogano has a ghost! The story goes that the son of the Rogano founder James Henry Roger hanged himself in one of the cloakrooms.

43 Rogano sells 260 kilos of mussels a week.

44 In a year Rogano customers get through 100,000 oysters.

45 One of the best selling dishes is Lobster Thermidor.

46    It’s other two signature dishes are Langoustines & lemon sole.

47    Guests in the 1940’s and 50’s included Danny Kaye, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Margaret Lockwood.

48    Elizabeth Taylor decided not to sign the Rogano visitor book because she had been hassled by the press for a photograph.

49    Rogano has seen the likes of Irvin Berlin, Liberace, George Melly, Spike Milligan,Joan Collins, Billy Connolly, Jude Law, Des O’Connor, Dr Henry Kissinger, Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Madonna, Ewan McGregor, Bob Dylan and Kylie (to name a very few) through its doors.

50    It’s a favourite haunt of the football fraternity – from Sir Alex Ferguson to Walter Smith, and Gordon Strachan.

51    Rogano staff call the semi circular table by the pillar the ironing board.

52    Poet W.H. Auden has written a poem about Rogano called ‘The Mermaids of the Oyster Bar’.

53    The DRAM’s own Cheryl Cook once worked at Rogano.

54    Table No 16 is the celebrity table.

55    In 1976 the price of the Christmas Eve lunch was £5.50.

56    Rogano’s outside area opened in 2004.

57    It’s house champagne today is Joseph Perrier Champagne and it sells more than 7,000 bottles every year.

58    Mick Jagger ordered rocket salad when he dined there in the mid-70’s.

59    Rod Stewart says going to Rogano is like “coming home”.

60    Rogano serves 2250 people every week.

61    Rogano is the oldest surviving restaurant in Glasgow.

62    It’s best selling cocktail is the French Martini.

63    The original font is used in today’s menus.

64    The carpet is rewoven every few years, but in the same design.

65    Today there are 65 staff.

66    550 people attended its 80th birthday celebrations on November 15th 2015

67    During the war Rogano was a favourite hang-out for army and navy officers. Apparently staff used to give them a label, from a fish box, with their name and hotel written on, in case they got too inebriated to remember where they were staying.

68    The bar in Rogano is known as The Oyster Bar.

69    Originally Paisley publican Norman Link had expressed plans to buy the Rogano from Valerie Wilson in 1983, but this deal fell through. Michael Modlin, whose family owned The Warehouse, also put an offer in 1983, but was pipped to the post by Ind Coope (Alloa).

70    During the 1940’s most of Glasgow’s seafood was delivered to Rogano from the railway station. The other hotels and restaurants in the city that sold seafood would despatch their boys to Rogano’s to pick it up.

71 During the war people queued round the block to get into the bar.

72 Ron McCulloch met his future wife, Amanda Rosa, at Rogano. She came into see him to show him her designs for the Rogano’s carpets.

73 The original art deco ventilation grills are still intact.

74 Rogano’s exterior and interior are now listed.

75 Apparently when Rogano was still owned by a pub company there were talks about changing its name to the Fox & Ferret.

76 Bill Martin, on of the UK’s most acclaimed songwriters – responsible for hits such as Puppet on a String, Congratulations, Shang a Lang, The Bump, Forever and Forever, among others, spoke at the 80th birthday, while Edward Reid sang a song.

77    Owner James Mortimer is significantly younger than his oldest restaurant.

78    Keira Knightley went to Rogano every night for a fortnight when she was filming in Glasgow. She had the same dish every night – smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.

79    Chef Andy Cumming has personally opened more than half a million oysters – and he has two a day for breakfast.

80    Inverarity Morton are the wine supplier to Rogano and the rest of James Mortimer’s estate.

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DRAM News Team

Editor at DRAM Magazine
DRAM magazine is Scotland’s leading monthly licensed trade magazine. It has been dedicated exclusively to the on-trade in Scotland for the past 23 years. It is independently owned, edited and published in Scotland. The DRAM is innovative, creative and original. First with the news, and the people in the news. Covering all the latest information on pubs, bars, clubs, restaurants and hotels in Scotland.

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