By Jason Caddy
2 Main Street, Kilsyth, Glasgow G65 0AQ
Of all the well-known scarecrows in popular culture none of them, to my knowledge, are Scottish. A very well-known Scottish Scarecrow, however, is the eponymous Kilsyth boozer that’s just been given the gift of a refurbishment by owners, Dundas Heritable Ltd.
The corner unit is three bars in one – public bar, bar-bistro and lounge – and on the approach, the refurbishment is obvious on account of the super-fresh-looking gun-metal grey paintwork, likewise the outdoor seating, cast in a similar shade. Then there are all the flowers blooming from baskets and spilling from window boxes. Around the back of the bar, facing the picturesque cobbled Market Square, the outer wall has been whitewashed with grey detailing on the ground stones. A cracking-looking unit from the outside.
Inside, GM, Andrew Scanlan, gave me the guided tour on a very busy lunchtime and he was the best man for the job because he worked in parallel with the Dundas Heritable in-house design team in a kind of consultative capacity. He said, “The refurbishment happened in stages. We closed the bar-bistro for six weeks and the opened it while the lounge was getting its refit. The public bar stayed open throughout – the locals wouldn’t have been able to do without it.”
So, which has been the most fundamental change, according to Andrew? “Everything has been changed pretty much apart from the stone floors and exposed stone walls. While it certainly had its charms, the place used to look a bit like the Bat Cave and the refurbishment has lightened it all thanks to the colour scheme and new wall hangings. Some of what we have added, like the bikes hanging on the walls in the bar-bistro, are nods to the former life of part of the building as a bike shop. It was also a bakery in a previous life.”
It was really busy when I visited and the stand-outs in design terms are those wall-mounted push-bikes and mirrors on the exposed brick walls in the bar-bistro. Pendant lights with filament-exposed bulbs light the space and the colour scheme on the non-exposed brick walls is somewhere between mint and olive green, while the ceiling is a cool, clean white. There are booths in here and some free-standing white plastic chairs paired with wooden tables.
Next up is the public bar which, according to Andrew, enjoyed more of a ‘freshen up’ rather than any kind of full-on refurbishment. The tiled floor is a legacy from before and the ceiling has been painted white with grey-painted wooden dividers, with etched glass components, separating the seating areas. There’s also a window-wall of frosted glass squares that allow in plenty of natural light, which combined with the ceiling spots, make this area bright and airy for a traditional public bar and, boy, was this place busy busy busy. The grey theme also extends to the newly painted gantry behind the bar.
Then we come to my favourite part of The Scarecrow: the lounge bar, also known as the extension. This part of the bar is bursting with character and was perhaps the most cave-like part of the pub before the refurbishment and the new-look hasn’t taken away any of this.
A structural change was required in here. A whole new bar was installed, with a wooden bar-top and attractive black wrought-iron detailing skirted along its front, and sitting parallel is a row of non-fussy black bar stools on a patterned tile floor. A smoky mirror makes up what is a simply designed back-bar.
This area is long and narrow and under a vaulted ceiling, complete with Velux windows, the plaster-work around which has been painted white. This area also boasts a giant screen for sports that doesn’t look too intrusive.
Furniture-wise there are stylish grey-painted wooden seats, as well as some of the wooden-dividers for the seating and the mustard-coloured sofas pop against all the exposed stone and the dark slate floor.
The snug, up some stairs to the top of this space beyond the bar, has a nifty wee hearth for a fire papered with interesting foliage wallpaper, paired with white walls, quirky black and white photos, wall-lights, green booths and more grey coloured wooden chairs. Here, a glass cabinet displays some rare bottles and various awards.
It’s a sympathetic refurbishment to all three distinct areas while also tying them together through the use of colour. A good job.