Design Focus: The Brae

August 4th, 2017 | Posted in: Editors' Picks,Features

The Brae: 26 Townfoot, Dreghorn, Irvine KA11 4EG

Take a quaint Ayrshire village with a shortage of eating out options, a boarded up pub with bags of of potential and an enthusiastic, dog-loving couple, and what do you get? The Brae, a new pub/restaurant opened by husband and wife team Emma and Iain Mason in Dreghorn, North Ayrshire, and quite possibly THE most dog-friendly hostelry in the territory. Iain and Emma don’t just have a rich history in the hospitality industry, you see, they’re also professional dog walkers, doing an impressive job of juggling that business (Ayrshire Dog Walking) with the pub and looking after their two-year-old son.

Brae

Emma told DRAM, “The pub is very dog-friendly. When you’ve got your own dog-walking business you definitely can’t say no to them! We’ve got a helper with the dog business, but we still give him a hand on the really busy days. We always make sure we’re finished by four o’clock though, so we can attend to the pub.”

Brae

The Brae is divided into two main areas, a larger one mainly designed for dining on the left and a smaller pub section on the right. The dining area blends dark patterned carpets with gleaming wooden floors. The bar running along the right wall faces towards booths with turquoise leather seating on the left wall, with blocks of tables for four or two diners sat in between and a centrepiece consisting of a faux fireplace sat on a little podium, replete with charred logs. Two chunks of brickwork act almost like gates ushering you into a further large section through the back that looks out towards the beer garden. Here the walls are painted cream, purple and blue and dotted with charming black and white photos of local landmarks –instead of the framed football tops that once adorned them. It’s one of many marked changes from the days when the premises were home to The Annick Tavern, changes overseen by Interior Designer Gillian Morris of DBP Architects and company partner Alan Baxter.

Brae

Gillian told DRAM, “It was really a case of working with what we had, nothing has been left untouched. Previously the walls were mock stone and it was very dated inside. The beer garden is also new, we had to strip out the previous one out and add new decking. There’s a bigger kitchen now – that’s probably what people don’t see but there’s been a lot of money spent on back of house. The two bars used to be completely separate but now there’s a passage so you can walk between them.”

Brae

Those in need of a functioning fireplace on cold days can find one through in the main bar, where tartan carpets and some vintage sports-themed artwork enhance the cosy feel. Large chalkboards advertise the gin and ale offerings and there’s a space set aside at the rear for a full-size pool table.

Emma and Iain met when they were both studying hotel management at university, and had always dreamt of running a pub together. Ian was a manager at several different local branches of Frankie and Benny’s whilst Emma worked front of house and reception at The Gailes Hotel in Irvine, before chance led them to drive through Dreghorn one day and spot that the premises were up for let. The process from there on in was a collaborative one between the Troon-based couple and Punch, with Emma and Iain able to insist on changes that reflected their vision of a classic country pub that doesn’t alienate former Annick Tavern regulars.

Emma continued, “Punch were really good, they’re always on the end of the phone. We had a lot of input. They (Punch) initially had a different idea for here and we changed it. We made it more of a rustic village pub, put the fireplaces in and stuff, made it a bit cosier. It is a village pub, so it can’t be too contemporary. Before it was the Annick it was The Commercial, although that’s going way back. There’s been quite a few regulars that drank here for years and years who’ve came in and been impressed. Irvine is massive now, so we’re trying to get people in from Irvine, but Troon and even Kilmarnock aren’t that far away. It’s a big area, and we’ve got golf tourism too.”

 

Brae

‘The Brae’ is the colloquial term used by people in the village to describe the street (Townfoot) the pub is on, but it was the power of social media that decided it would be the name of the new pub also.

Said Emma, “We did a Facebook poll; ‘The Brae’ had 300 and something votes and the others had 50 odd, so it won hands down.”

Emma has been delighted with the response from customers since the £288K refurbishment. “We’ve had something like 65 five-star reviews already.” She believes that the key to maintaining that success is striking the right balance between those classic local pub features and a willingness to embrace wider trends within the industry. The Brae has a jukebox, a pool table and TVs but it’s also got an extensive gin selection, good quality food and artwork that encapsulates the history and character of the local area. One of Dreghorn’s biggest claims to fame is the fact that John Boyd Dunlop, the originator of the Dunlop Tyres empire, was born there, and visitors can learn all about him simply by glancing at the wall in The Brae.

Emma stated, “We don’t just do beers, it’s not an old man’s pub. We’ve got a big range of gin, we’ve got craft beers and cask ales, a wide wine selection. And we’ve got loads of offers on – burger night, steak night, kids eat for free. The menu’s got everything we need on it, it’s not just pub grub, it’s proper hearty food. We’ve got quizzes on a Wednesday and a Sunday, and we do Fizzy Fridays. We’re going to start introducing things like live music once we’ve found our feet. We also do free pool Monday to Thursday.”

Lest we forget, there’s the beer garden, situated on a raised, roped off platform in a corner of the car park and bound to catch the sun – if and when it decides to make an appearance, that is. As Emma puts it, “This is the west of Scotland after all!”

The following two tabs change content below.

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.


Six by Nico gets set for Edinburgh launch

Thu 15th February 2018

Chef Nico Simeone is set to introduce his successful dining concept ‘Six by Nico’ to Edinburgh this April. ‘Six by Nico&#... Read more.

Hanoi Bike Shop: Dog lovers urgently required for First Dates

Wed 7th February 2018

Vietnamese restaurant Hanoi Bike Shop, in Glasgow’s West End, is set to host its own version of popular Channel 4 show ‘First Da... Read more.

Buzzworks celebrate 9.2% rise in profits as turnover hits £14.8m

Tue 30th January 2018

Buzzworks, the award-winning Ayrshire-based hospitality group, owned by Kenny, Colin and Alison Blair, celebrated a rise in turnover of 15.6... Read more.

EDINBURGH GIN UNVEILS NEW LOOK FOR VALENTINE’S LIMITED EDITION

Fri 26th January 2018

Edinburgh Gin is making it easier for romantics just in time for the 14th February with its revamped 2018 Valentine’s limited-edition ... Read more.

Strong performance from Diageo but Smirnoff see sales dip

Thu 25th January 2018

Diageo has reported a strong performance with operating profit up 6.1% on net sales of £6.5bn. ... Read more.

Top 5 Malt whiskies to celebrate Burns Day

Thu 25th January 2018

Malt whisky accounts for 16.1% of all whisky sales, while blends account for 61.7%. Top 5 Malt whiskies Glenfiddich 12 year old Glenmorangie... Read more.

Burns didn’t die of alcohol, more matters of the heart

Thu 25th January 2018

People have speculated that Burns died of alcohol excess and possibly a sexual disease, but that was probably just the view of his biographe... Read more.

Scotland rules!

Thu 25th January 2018

Scotland’s most famous man is Robert Burns. But there was a somewhat murky side to our famed poet. It’s well documented that he had 13 c... Read more.

Burns painting turned out to be a bargain!

Thu 25th January 2018

Stephen Barnes bought a painting of Burns for less than £1,000 and when he got the painting authenticated, he found out it was actually wor... Read more.

Isle of Arran partners with Burns Unbroke

Thu 25th January 2018

Isle of Arran Distillers is sponsoring Burns Unbroke, a brand new multi-arts Robert Burns Festival. The event which takes place at Summerhal... Read more.

Whyte & Mackay sponsors 2018 Glasgow Comedy Festival

Wed 24th January 2018

Whyte & Mackay is sponsoring the 2018 Glasgow International Comedy Festival. The long-running festival is the flagship event of the Glas... Read more.

A gin that celebrates Byron

Wed 24th January 2018

Speyside Distillery – which is better known for its single malt Scotch whisky – has launched a new limited edition gin with bota... Read more.

What are your predictions for 2018?

Tue 23rd January 2018

THIS MONTH WE ASKED SOME OF THE KEY PEOPLE IN THE TRADE TO TELL US THEIR PREDICTIONS AND VIEWPOINT ON THE YEAR AHEAD. THANKS TO: Andrew Morr... Read more.

DESIGN FOCUS: THE TREE HOUSE

Tue 23rd January 2018

The Tree House in Ayr re-opened at the end of last year after a £400,000 transformation by owners Buzzworks. The restaurant, which has been... Read more.

Q&A : Who made an impression on you in 2017 and why? Pt 3

Tue 23rd January 2018

THIS MONTH WE ASKED SOME OF THE KEY PEOPLE IN THE TRADE TO TELL US THEIR PREDICTIONS AND VIEWPOINT ON THE YEAR AHEAD. THANKS TO: Andrew Morr... Read more.

How can licensees stay ahead of the competition in 2018?

Tue 23rd January 2018

THIS MONTH WE ASKED SOME OF THE KEY PEOPLE IN THE TRADE TO TELL US THEIR PREDICTIONS AND VIEWPOINT ON THE YEAR AHEAD. THANKS TO: Andrew Morr... Read more.

The Tipsy Cow, Airdrie

Tue 23rd January 2018

When business partners Frank Cogan and Martin Mackay of Bozz Co Inns Ltd embarked on their latest venture – The Tipsy Cow in Airdrie, Lana... Read more.

DRAM’s New Year Gongs!

Tue 23rd January 2018

This month Susan Young presents her annual gongs to people who have made her sit up and take notice this year… find out who caught her... Read more.

Molson Coors welcomes Snow

Tue 23rd January 2018

Molson Coors UK and Ireland has announced a partnership agreement with Chinese brewer China Resources Snow Beer (CRSB). Molson Coors UK now... Read more.

Glasgow serves up first citywide gift card

Tue 23rd January 2018

There’s a new Glasgow Gift Card which can be used in 70 restaurants, shops and leading attractions. The card, a pre-paid Visa, is the resu... Read more.