Macgochans arises from the ashes as splendid as a phoenix


Macgochans in Tobermory has just re-opened and boss Neil Morrison is delighted. He was due to reopen the venue, which burned down last May, at the end of March – but COVID-19 put paid to that. Today Macgochans looks glorious and customers have flocked back.
Neil told DRAM, “Before we were trying to be all things to all people but we have been able to reset with the new build. The bar and restaurant is now split into two distinct areas. On the left-hand side – upstairs and down there is the restaurant and on the right side is the pub. We have used all the available space and have an extensive balcony too. Our capacity is now at 580 which makes us the biggest bar and restaurant on the west coast.”

The new-look Macgochans was designed by Dominic Paul. Says Neil, “My brief to Dominic was to create a pub which had an old-style New Yorkish feel – all leather and wood which would fit with whisky and smoking (if it was allowed). We have used a lot of copper and brass but we also thought about how we could keep it clean so we have used materials which are more manageable than the rough wood which was in situ before. It’s aimed more at our locals and I wanted it to feel welcoming and comfortable”

Neil continues, “I think Dominic may have also taken the American feel over into the restaurant.” Certainly, the restaurant has more of a New Hampshire feel. Its very light and airy with duck egg blue panelling and rich ochre leather booths – it’s open to the rafters with mirrors which reflect the light and has an unusual wooden floor. It also leads out to the new balcony which gives a fabulous view over Tobermory.


Says Neil, “The beauty of having something so big is that it is easier to social distance. I’ve only lost eight tables out of the restaurant everything else is back to back and now that we have so much outside place – we have also re-done the beer garden – we are almost doing the numbers I would have expected to do if it had been a normal summer.”

It’s just as well that the kitchen is all brand new too. Says Neil, “We have spent a fortune on it. We can do between 300 and 500 meals a day so our chefs have all the toys. “Our customers are able to enjoy local seafood straight from the boat and we buy our meat locally too. Although we don’t have customers from the cruise ships what we are getting is lots of daytrippers, sailors, and sea and wildlife enthusiasts and of course locals. It’s a nice clientele and we are certainly shifting a lot of higher-end wines.”

He concludes, “I am very happy with the way Macgochans now looks and operates. All our staff are back and we are looking forward to a busy few months. It has taken a lot of investment to get it back and get it trading where it should be. If we are doing these numbers at this time, when we are back to normal the business should be exceptional.” 

Category: Design
Tags: Isle of Mull, Macgochans, Neil Morrison, Tobermory