Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Don't Go Changing

We recently let slip in our monthly eNews that we are planning a bit of a makeover at Clachaig this coming autumn. Never ones to sit on our laurels, the time is now right to re-invigorate the public areas again. Most notably, the Bidean Lounge Bar, the dining room, and the Boots Bar.

And rather than simply drop this on you in November, we decided it would be a good idea to float the idea with you first. We asked for your feedback, and mostly using our Facebook page, we got a good few comments straight away. Fair to say that the overriding message was "Don't go changing", with some responses being a little more emphatic than others.

The Grog & Gruel, Fort William - the same, but different.
The issue then, is quite what would constitute a 'change'. Well, we're not spilling the beans yet. Not entirely anyway, and that's mostly because it's what you might call a 'fluid situation'. That's right, the plans haven't been finalised yet.

You know you've done it right when customers think something might be different but aren't sure quite what it is!

From the tone of some of the comments received you'd think that we were about to change the Boots Bar into a wine bar. We don't blame you, and it's actually pretty fantastic to hear that there are so many loyal fans who take such an active interest in the place. But, would we? Would we really? We've spent the last 27 years creating the atmosphere at Clachaig. You might not see Ed & Guy so much these days. That's mostly because Gordon and the team do such a fantastic job without us. But we're still here, hidden in a little black hole in a dark corner of Clachaig, only let out on special occasions. And we're still as committed to ever as making Clachaig your number one 'escape to the hills (but with a little comfort and beer)' destination.

It's more than 20 years since the Boots Bar saw any real change. It's due for a little TLC and we're confident that regardless of how much of a die hard Boots Bar fan you are, you'll still love the place come Christmas. Maybe even a little more? Much of the work will be cosmetic, giving the place a bit of a lift, making it a little more comfortable and a little more inviting.

We've already been trialling a few ideas. Have you noticed the new table and benches being tested to ensure that they are man enough for the job? (They fell apart last week!) Have you spotted the changes to the whisky displays on the back gantry. (We've increased the range by a further 40 malts). We're not just firing from the hip with this refurbishment. There's a lot of thought gone into it over a long period of time, and we've still got a long way to go.

We went through a similar process last year with The Grog & Gruel in Fort William. Established in 1994, the pub had a very strong identity and a very loyal following. However, after 16 years we reckoned that a makeover was long overdue. The problem was how to refresh the feel of the alehouse whilst keeping very much to the distinctive style; improve it without really changing it. At times it felt like a huge leap of faith, but we reckon we pulled it off quite well in the end, and it's far to say that we've had nothing but complements about the new look ever since. So, it is possible.

That's about all that we've got to say for the moment. As plans progress we'll keep you updated, so join us on Facebook, or sign up for our eNewsletter. But be warned. We've got a wicked sense of humour and we might just drop in a few red herrings and the odd curve ball out of the left field. Sorry, that's all for now. Got to dash as the crystal chandelier delivery has just arrived.

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