Lisa Wishart: A Legend In Her Lifetime

Lisa Wishart, Managing Director of Lisini, died earlier this month. Not only did she run a thriving hospitality company but she was a great ambassador for the trade. Here are excerpts from an interview with Lisa in 2018

Lisa Wishart was the Managing Director of her family business Lisini – which developed from a pub business into arguably one of the most successful hospitality businesses in Lanarkshire. Lisa’s, right hand man was cousin Grant Hood while sister Siobhan Edwards also plays a key role in driving the business forward.

The company, which now employs more than 300 people, has grown organically and its portfolio includes Dalziel Park, a 16-bedroomed hotel with golf course and wedding and conference facilities, The Parkville in Blantyre, which also boasts wedding and conference facilities, five bedrooms and a bar and restaurant, and Angels in Uddingston which has six boutique bedrooms and a bustling restaurant and bar. Lisini also owns the Castle Rooms and The Croft.

The business, founded by Lisa’s parents, Harry and Kathleen Hood, forty years ago, is testament to the old adage hard work pays off. And certainly Lisa was convinced that it is her parents’ work ethic that she and her siblings inherited, that helped position Lisini at the very heart of hospitality in the area. Lisa didn’t really consider herself a hotelier, or indeed a publican.

A018D875-8593-4903-A1BD-8F398441926FShe told me, “When people ask what I do I often hesitate. I think I am most comfortable saying that I work in hospitality.”

But that was not always the case. Lisa originally started her working life as a PE teacher, and in fact played Hockey for Scotland. Her sporting prowess comes, of course, from her father’s side of the family. Harry Hood, as you all probably know, was a Celtic legend. He played 189 times for Celtic and scored 74 goals including the 1971 Scottish Cup final winner.

Says Lisa, “Dad’s brother played for Everton, one boxed for Scotland and his two sisters were professional iceskaters. They were an exceptionally talented family and I was lucky to inherit the sporty side. I always wanted to do PE. so I concentrated on sport which I really enjoyed. But unfortunately three years into teaching my knees gave way, and I wasn’t sure what direction to take. So I took a year off and went backpacking and then my mum suggested I come into the family business. She had been ill, and although she had recovered she wanted to take more of a back seat.”

Mind you it wasn’t the first time Lisa had worked for the family company. She told me, “My mum and dad worked incredibly hard when we were young, and they instilled this work ethic into us by insisting that we earned our pocket money by working in their pubs. So from an early age I was cleaning, then I progressed to doing the dishes and chambermaid work. My parents motto was ‘If you can’t be seen to do it don’t expect anyone else to do it.’ Therefore you would find me behind the bar in the morning cleaning, despite having been working the previous night. It was a very good grounding.”

Lisa joined the company as manager of Angels in Uddingston more than 20 years ago. She said, “When I started working in Angels we only did a little bit of food at lunchtime and we had hand written menus, which had four dishes, and the cash was collected in a blue tin box. We stopped serving food at 2.30pm in the bar and our bedrooms were never used.”


She continued, “I didn’t have a hospitality degree, but instead I decided to do a Masters of Business Adminstration at Strathclyde University while I was working. I studied at night and at the weekends. It was great. My parents didn’t realise what I was doing. I’m sure they thought it was a sports qualification.

“I funded the MBA myself and it was worth it. It is a great degree for people who are small business owners – who need to know a little about finance, HR, marketing, strategy and more. It also gave me a good overall understanding of how every component in your business is a cog in the wheel. I also realised that although the bottom line is important, it is not all about profits when you are a family company. For us family ethics are important – we want to have a business that operates in a fair and honest way and we want our customers to feel appreciated. That is more important to us than profit.”

However when Lisa tried to introduce new marketing initiatives after taking over at Angels, she did find a bit of opposition from her parents. She explained, “I suggested that we started serving food at night. My dad wasn’t keen. He didn’t think people would come in for evening meals. He said people don’t eat out at night, they would come out for a good pub lunch but they won’t come back out at night. But I decided to do it anyway, and I tried it in the Angels lounge. At first it was really quiet and I thought, ‘oh no’ dad was right! But then I came up with a new marketing ploy. I said to dad, “Why don’t we do ‘Two meals for the price of one’. It really took off. This was 22 years ago, and I honestly think we were the first, or one of the first to do this.”

Today, the business still has the same offer. Lisa said “We are fully booked a week ahead. We run the promotion Monday to Thursday, and obviously it only applies to a certain number of dishes. People worried that when we refurbished Angels we would come away from our roots, but why change something that works so well? It is brilliant.”

Through the years Lisini has continued to invest in the premises and it developed from a business that was based around beverages and food, to a complete hospitality business. Lisa commented, “We don’t like to pigeon hole the business.” Lisini have a reputation for taking over businesses and totally rejuventating them.


Ten years ago they bought The Parkville in Blantyre and invested £750K refurbishing the business. At the time people were amazed that the group had invested so much on the business. But before long business was flourishing. Five years later they bought Dalziel Park in Motherwell.

Lisa was the main instigator when it came to buying the Motherwell business which was set in 250 acres. It has a 600-capacity and is split into the Cedar Suite, two conference rooms, the bar and brasserie and a restaurant called the Wide Mouth Frog plus 16 bedrooms and of course the golf course. She says, “For some reason no one wanted Dalziel Park. We were the only ones to bid for it. But I honestly think only a handful of operators could have transformed it.

“Dalziel needed to be a venue that appealed to the local community. But it wasn’t an easy transition. It had to be totally renovated, and of course it cost much more than we thought it would. But it was worth it. I get a lot of pleasure out of the fact that local people stop me in the street and say thanks for putting Dalziel back on the map. They love the fact that they have a place in Motherwell that they like to go to. That is very motivating. We have further plans for the venue – within the next two years we plan to add 16 new bedrooms and a spa facility. I would like to make it into a nice country club.”

Lisa believes that the staff have contributed greatly to the company’s success. Lisini used to have 10 year service awards, but now there are so many people who have nearly 20 years service with the company they are having to amend that. She commented, “We are really lucky with our staff. But we do invest a lot of time ensuring that we get the right people – we call it Lisini Behaviours – honesty, friendliness, and attitude are all important when it comes to recruitment. We call our employees the Lisini family and we need to make sure people fit in.”

She also wrote a piece for DRAM just as the pandemic ended what she said then is as pertinent as it is today. Said Lisa, “Someone once said, “Don’t let a good recession go to waste”. I have poured over our costs, overheads and contracts, even roles within the organisation, and truly hope that if we get through this we will be leaner, more focussed and in tune with the market.

“Lastly, the Government and local authorities need to take stock. We are one of the largest contributors to the National economy and we have been operating for the past decade or so on razor thin margins. We used to spend time focussing on what we enjoyed- hospitality. Recently it has been spent on monitoring the rising costs of making a business survive. The added layers of costs to be in business is, in my opinion a deterrent for a raft of people who would be naturally suited to this field. In short- it’s hard to make a decent living, even if the creativity and ingenuity is there.

“It’s time for recalibration. It’s time for a permanent VAT reduction in hospitality. It’s time for a total overhaul of the unfair rates system. It’s time to collectively charge consumers more for what they are served, instead of watching our backs for competitor use of deal sites. It’s time to reignite our passion for why we do what we do. “It’s time to make the Hospitality Industry great again.”

She is so right I just wish she was here to help us on the path. Lisa is survived by mum Kathleen, husband, Keith, son Jamie, sister Siobhan and brother Nicholas.

Memories of Lisa

Nicola Taylor, Chief Executive Chardon Enterprises

You really don’t expect to be asked to write about your friend who was so tragically taken from us at only 57. A funny, smart and beautiful lady inside and out, and one that I am proud to call my friend.Lisa and I met through a mutual friend, Laura Gordon, and immediately hit it off. We were part of a peer learning Group which focused on strong leadership and shared a desire to be the best leaders for our businesses and creating strong cultures of belonging and support within our businesses.

“It became clear very quickly that we shared so many similarities and experiences. Most obviously we were two women running second generation family hospitality businesses with our Dads as our wing men. It was easy for us to have open and frank conversations about everything to do with business and the impact it had on our lives.

“We both made the choice later in life to join the ‘family firm’ and chose to grow the businesses using the platform our parents had built with our added experience from elsewhere. We were both lifelong learners, in fact from starting out as a PE teacher, Lisa went back to University to gain her MBA to help her embark on what was to be an incredibly successful business career.

“Needless to say, Lisa was beyond devastated when she lost her Dad, and that was pretty tough for her, especially leading into Covid with all the challenges that brought the industry as a whole.

“Of course, Lisa was someone who was so passionate about her business, her team and the whole industry. She was always able to find time to help others, no matter how much she had to do. Hospitality is non-stop 24/7 and 365 days, but she enjoyed it so much and got a huge amount of satisfaction from watching the business grow and develop along with her team.

“During Covid, her tireless focus helped the business navigate through some of the dark times we all experienced and come out the other side, stronger. She was an advocate within the industry and never shied away from defending what she held dear.

“However, her number one priority was her family and in particular her teenage son, Jamie, to whom she devoted so much of her energy and focus, no matter what else was going on in her life.

“Lisa simply sparkled. She lit up any room she was in. Whenever I arrived anywhere to meet her, I could see and hear her instantly, chatting happily, telling wonderful and funny stories with everyone around her laughing and smiling. That is how I will always remember her. I for one, and I know I speak for so many others, will miss her enormously. We’ve lost one of the very best. Let’s raise a toast to our wonderful colleague and friend – Lisa Wishart.”


546FDDE7-021C-4F2F-A611-7A019EBD7E5DLisa’s hospitality colleagues and friends have been left left shocked by the news of her death. But they remember her charm, intelligence, kindness and work ethic. Lisa was genuinely a lovely person and a very capable business individual.

A3D492CD-6A3B-4599-B374-7C0FDD86060A“She was always interested in what you had to say and valued what you were saying. She was passionate about life and passionate about her business. She was a really good human being. An absolute gem.” David Wither, Chief Executive of Montpeliers

“Lisa was very modest in how she went about her business, never thinking she was doing things as well as she could. She was someone with true humility and who didn’t recognise her ability, and how others viewed her. She had my total respect and I really appreciated her friendship. She was a lovely human being.” Steve Graham, Chairman of Manorview

C80AF3D5-E908-4A8B-9D95-F60E73172B93-1“I though she was an extraordinary ambassador for the hospitality industry and cared for everyone. I haven’t known anyone who worked as hard as Lisa did. She had amazing integrity and made everyone around her feel special – she had no ego. She had a kind word for everyone and she lit up the room. I was continually astonished how selfless and compassionate she was. She was a special lady and an example to everyone who worked with her. A sure professional.” Michael Dunn, MD Interiors

“Lisa was the type of person you were always glad to see and have a chat with. I bumped into her on a regular basis at trade events and really enjoyed her company We discussed the high and lows of our great industry and swapped notes on running a business with your family. I could tell how passionate she was about getting the best for the industry and her business and for looking after everyone in Lisini. She was an impressive lady and I feel very sad that I won’t meet her again but I will never forget her spirit. My thoughts and love go to her family and everyone at Lisini.”  Kenny Blair, Managing Director of Buzzworks


Category: Interviews, News, People