Design Focus: The Spanish Butcher

January 5th, 2017 | Posted in: Editors' Picks,Features

By Susan Young

There’s no doubt about it, James and Louise Rusk (below), the duo behind The Butchershop and Hutchesons have created another distinctive restaurant and bar in the shape of The Spanish Butcher located in Glasgow’s Miller Street.

The new 80-cover ‘loft-like’ restaurant which James describes as “a la carte Spanish’, opened its doors last month to much acclaim. And the husband and wife team, who have just rebranded their business Rusk & Rusk, are excited about their latest venture, which offers the very best Galician steak, salt-cured Iberico and fresh seafood.

Says James, “Our business has grown organically over the past six years. The Butchershop was a bit special when we opened it and is still doing incredibly well. Then we opened Hutchesons, three years ago, it was another very special venue, and now we have added our third restaurant to the group, but this time round we were really able to put our mark on the design.”

Explains Louise, “Hutchesons was an A-listed building so we really had to work around that. But with this building it was an absolute shell, it didn’t even have a floor when we came to look at it. This gave us an opportunity to design it from scratch and really get our teeth into it.”

James continues, “We spend a lot of time in New York and we wanted to create a New York Manhattan loft-style vibe to the venue. But we needed to balance grown up New York style with comfort and a relaxed atmosphere at the same time.

Says James, “One of the things we loved about the building was that it was symmetrical outside – the door was in the middle with an equal number of windows on either side.”

Although the windows stretch from the ground to the top of the outside facade – the are made of 32 small black steel framed glazed panes, very art deco, with the surround a matt black – very chic indeed and there is no signage to speak of.

When you come through the doors of the restaurant, and through the heavy curtain, which gives you a feeling of expectation, you enter into a bar area – which has an exposed brick wall, with a large piece of artwork, facing you with a tall posing table with bentwood bar stools to the right is the bar which has been attractively clad in rattan which matches the Marcel Breuer dining chairs which have been used throughout.

Explains Louise, “I just love the mid-20’s – mid-30’s era and we wanted to incorporate this into our design. But we also wanted it to be a contemporary space but timeless. We just loved these Marcel Bruer chairs, I think it was a wee bit risky, but I think they work.”

James continues, “We really wanted the restaurant to have a good flow. We have been econominal and creative with our use of space. When we talked to our architects, Mosaic, they really understood where we were coming from. But I really love the floor – it was a real challenge. I first saw it in the US.”

Louise continues, “James is a big fan of concrete floors but I prefer something a little warmer and this floor fits the bill. It is concrete but with a polished resin coating with a warm pigment mixed in. It’s also non-slip.”

The restaurant feels warm and inviting with the dark green used on most of the walls, and subtle mirrors, above ox-blood red banquettes, the pitch black ceiling and art-deco ribbed glass all adding to the ambience. The restaurant is split into three defined dining areas – the front area has a large ‘social table’ which has a lighter table top from the rest of the tables in the restaurant, which are all stained. This area also features rattan booths which are adjacent to wood panelled walls. This area is connected to the middle area, because the wall has a large opening, which at first glance is a bit like a large mirror, it’s only when you look through you realise actually that is another part of the restaurant.

The middle area features a latticed ceiling and stand-alone tables of four, and around the walls, there are banquettes with scalloped edging – another nod to art deco – the same banquettes appear in the third area which boasts The Chefs Table, and which gives a great view of the kitchen. And what a kitchen it is.

“It was important that the design didn’t overtake the timeless feel of the restaurant.”

Explains James, “I think the kitchen is my favourite area. It’s a zoomy kitchen. It has been given as much attention as the rest of the restaurant with the oven hoods all black and black tiles, and great equipment. We wanted the restaurant to be super finished but to feel lived in at the same time. We’ve under-designed it deliberately.”

Says Louise, “It was important that the design didn’t overtake the timeless feel of the restaurant. I think what we have created here is the type of restaurant that James and I like eating in. It’s for all age groups, and its relaxed and intimate with a Spanish-inspired menu, which also makes the best use of Scottish ingredients.”

The Spanish Butcher brings the Rusk & Rusk portfolio to three, and they now also boast 150/160 staff, with 30 chefs alone, and they have recently opened a head office. Says Louise, “Rusk & Rusk is no longer just about James and I. We have a great team that we are investing in because we want to grow and we have a clear strategy for the coming years. We are certainly enjoying the challenges, and we are constantly learning new things, the business has become more fun.”

But James concludes, ‘Our ethos has not changed – we want to offer great service and great food and we want people to come here for date nights, big nights and with their friends, and enjoy the comfortable, but sophisticated surroundings. We want them to create memories here.”

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Susan Young
Susan Young is a journalist who has spent the last 20 years editing the DRAM. Prior to that, she spent a decade working in Public Relations and Events dealing with clients as diverse as Cumbernauld Development Agency and James Burrough Distillers. Her knowledge of the Scottish licensed trade is extensive and she also instigated the first ever Scottish licensed trade awards which have evolved into the Scottish Bar and Pub Awards.

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