Design Focus: The Mallard, Glasgow

John McGuinness and Angus Stewart, the duo behind The Drake in Glasgow, are flying high after opening their second venture, The Mallard, in the city’s West End.

The cosy new gastropub has just landed on Great Western Road in the former site of Gambrino Pizzeria, not too far from the pair’s flagship restaurant on Lynedoch Street in Woodlands.

The compact, 40-cover gastropub feels very traditional but contemporary at the same time; with plenty of natural, tactile materials like stone, tweed and reclaimed wood juxtaposed with industrial style metal, copper and glass.

Owners John and Angus had been looking to open a new place in Glasgow for a few years, and snapped up the lease on the former Italian restaurant as soon as it became available. They received the keys last November and set about completely transforming the site.

First, they enlisted the help of architect (and fellow licensee) John MacLeod, who owns Finnieston seafood joint The Crabshakk. He came up with an initial design plan. Glasgow-based company Complete Solutions then came on board to carry on the design work and undertook the entire shopfit, with the project led by owner Scott Adams.

An eight-week renovation, which stripped the space back to its bare bones and cost in the region of £40k, saw The Mallard take flight. John told DRAM, “We wanted to create a neighbourhood venue that was not just a pub, bar or a restaurant but was a bit of everything that would suit people of all ages. We wanted it to have a good vibe, but not really pigeon-hole it into one style.

“It is a wee bit more foodie than The Drake, and because we inherited a great pizza oven, we are doing great pizzas. We are hoping people will come and bring their kids and we are also dog-friendly in the bar area.”

Talking of the bar it’s no surprise the bar itself rules the roost and acts as the main focal point in the centre of the venue. Long seated areas are set on either side of the central bar, with a cluster of tall bar stools taking up the connecting space in between. Lit from below, the large bar’s gleaming copper top immediately catches the eye as you enter and reflects the hanging dark metal gantry cages above it.

The former is a large, commanding structure which holds wine bottles and glasses. It extends right up to the high ceiling, which had been opened up in the middle of The Mallard to create the feeling of more space, and has been painted a dark grey to maintain the intimate effect of a low ceiling. Glancing up, you can even see the original cornicing. The gantry is made of timber railway sleepers and glass shelves also lit from below.

John said, “We looked at the space and thought we want to put a big bar in as a focal point and the rest permeated out from there. The copper bar was something I’d seen in London and really liked, so we wanted to replicate that. I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out, it really brings the whole design together.”

Some design elements used in The Drake have made their way into its sister venue, such as the exposed stone walls and Harris Tweed. John and Angus picked out the subtle light blue and green Harris Tweed design, which was then transferred by Glasgow-based JC Upholstery to the long banquette seating running the full width of The Mallard at both ends of the restaurant, and on the 10 high bar chairs that run along the bar.

Complete Solutions also uncovered and restored a lot of the original building’s brickwork, which is featured throughout The Mallard. A cool colour scheme of light grey and duck egg blue used on the walls and wood panelled walls and ceilings on either side of the bar offsets the glowing copper bartop and warm burnt orange and bright blue seat covers used in the two dining areas.

Long mirrors run the length of the dining areas and bounce around the light that pours in from five large windows that look out onto the hustle and bustle of Great Western Road. Reflecting the rustic feel of The Mallard, much of the material used was actually reclaimed, with some coming from Gambrino’s itself.

The team rescued a number of thick, solid pieces of oak which were used as decorative surrounds around Gambrino’s interior doorways. They now have a new lease of life as handy grazer bars that run along the window space opposite the bar. The original flooring was ripped up, levelled and replaced with reclaimed floorboards which have been stripped down and used on both the floor and bar surrounds and the square archway that leads into the left-hand dining area.

The reclaimed wood has been kept a little scuffed and varies in black and brown tones, which, as Scott from Complete Solutions points out, “really adds to the rustic character of the place and helps to bring the whole design together.”

Black wooden tables and chairs are used throughout to complement the flooring, and traditional metal light fittings have been sourced to add to the rustic feel, and hang low to create the “dark, moody and atmospheric look” the owners were after. But there’s also a lot of hanging ivy and bright flowers on the tables to add a little colour and softness too.

The Mallard also becomes a different animal in the evenings thanks to the lighting effect created by Complete Solutions. John added, “We wanted to create a neighbourhood bar that’s warm and welcoming but at the same time has this cool, dark and moody look. I’m really pleased with how The Mallard has turned out – it really looks the part in the evenings.”

With its cosy, cool interior, eclectic food menu and generous drinks offering, we have a feeling customers will soon be flocking to The Mallard.