Singl-end Opens in the Merchant City – Jocelyn O’Keefe reports
Singl-end – yes, that’s how you spell it – is a cafe famous for its brunches and home-made bakes. Now it has just branched out from its Garnethill residence and opened a second instalment in Glasgow’s Merchant City.
The original Singl-end was a converted warehouse space owned by the Pagliocca family which opened four years ago as a cafe-bakery. They have now taken on what was formerly Piazzo Italian restaurant on John Street.
Approaching the new Singl-end, it is clear they are making good use of their location in a pedestrian precinct with plenty of outdoor tables. There is a rustic feel to the place with some exposed brick walls, especially around the front door and there is lots of wood and tin, nothing looking brand new. However, that contrasts with a modern feel and strong pops of purple and blue on the walls and the shiny black panelling running around the bottom of the wall.
Mark Frossman, head of marketing for Singl-end, commented, “The designer we work with is very industrial, but when we first went in we stripped back the walls and found some amazing brick so we took it right back to its original walls, especially the brick arches at the front. We wanted to emulate a rustic feel with the industrial features.”
As you walk in, you face a set of stairs and curving round to the left you are immediately greeted by stacks of baked goods presented on either side entering into the take-away section, a new feature for Singl-end, and the main part of the cafe. In the heart of the space, the open kitchen is showcased on the right wall with a bar running around the outside of it holding stacks of plates and cakes, and there is also a clear area with bar stools available if you want a super close up view of your food being made.
Mark explained, “There is a huge kitchen in the basement, so everyone thought we were mad when we said we wanted to put the open kitchen upstairs. It’s very important Singl-end keeps its vibe of all feeling like the one room, so putting the kitchen in the heart of the space and bringing the passion of the cooking into the space where the people are eating it was very important to us.”
Over to the left, you see the bar area, where the bar surface is covered in cakes and goods alongside the neatly stacked glasses for the bar. Above the main bar are the spotless glass shelves showcasing their drinks with delicate foliage in amongst the bottles and hanging from shelves, creating a very pretty effect. Over the open kitchen is a mezzanine level with more seating overlooking the downstairs area. The tables themselves are black iron with glass tabletops embedded with original memorabilia, a favourite feature from the first Singl-end. The memorabilia varies from old stamps and post cards to Polaroids and bank notes.
Mark said, “In Garnethill it was the owners own memorabilia that we used for the tables, but this time in Merchant city we reached out to our customers and asked them to send in photos, postcards and stamps…the tables are very much a continuation of our story and our growth in that sense.”
Another aspect they have taken from the original design is the use of the ribbed steel bars both on the bar and on the bar surrounding the open kitchen, giving quite an industrial kitchen look, contrasting with the quaint and pretty aspects of the design.
Wandering towards the back, you find the way out into the bright conservatory area with plenty more seating and a much more open and bright atmosphere compared to the darker, cosier inside area. That’s not to say however that the cafe is not spacious, spreading all the tables across the three inside areas and the outdoor area means that there is plenty of space to move around, not to mention the very high ceiling creating the illusion of space.
Talking about the different areas of the space, Mark added, “We wanted to keep the vibe of Garnethill while making full use of all the new features and space we had.”
Singl-end is unapologetically open, nothing is hidden away: from the open kitchen and take-away area, to the clean plates and platter boards openly stacked on the bar by the kitchen and the polished cutlery sitting out in its pots, the glasses are openly stacked on and around the bar and the cakes are all sitting out to look at. You would think the place would seem cluttered, with next to no surface space and so much grabbing your attention, but it somehow resembles an Italian deli stocked to the brim, everything looks delightful and spotlessly clean. Singl-end have kept a hold of the identity that made them a firm favourite in Glasgow but have grabbed every opportunity this new space has offered them.