Scarecrow Bar & Grill has been chosen best Gastro Pub not only for the South West, but for the whole of Scotland. This title has been given by The Food Awards Scotland, which celebrates and recognises top suppliers, servers and manufacturers across Scotland’s hospitality industry. The awards ceremony took place at the Glasgow Marriott Hotel on Monday 26th August.

In Kilsyth interviewed Andrew Scanlan, General Manager at the Scarecrow, just a couple of weeks before the event. Their nomination for best Gastro Pub of the South West of Scotland has now become and actual award – the maximum recognition in their category.

Q. What does it mean for you all to be nominated for this award?

A. Pretty overwhelming to be honest. A good sense of achievement as well. All the staff have worked very, very hard to get the place to where it is. So yeah, pretty overwhelming.

Q. What was your reaction when you heard the good news?

A. I was in with my baby, my wee boy. And I was sitting with my assistant manager, she took the call, and she was just kind of like “Andy, someone’s on the phone and they’re saying that we’ve been shortlisted for Gastro Pub of the year”. And I was like “no way, put the phone down, cannot be right”.

They sent an email through and then they wanted to speak to myself, obviously received the call and everything appeared to be correct. So it was just a wee bit overwhelming, and I think it was a sense of, a real good sense of achievement for the staff that are in here. Like I said, they’ve worked incredibly well and the commitment from them and the staff training… Like I said it was pretty overwhelming.

Q. Do you think this is somewhat linked to the recent revamp of the restaurant?

A. The idea was to create a family-friendly safe environment so that diners can come enjoy the place, the coffee shop, enjoy the surroundings that we’ve created here. We have a great team behind us who does all the work in-house as well.
So yeah, it’s been quite a good journey so far.

Q. What makes the Scarecrow different from other bar and grills in Glasgow or Edinburgh?

A. I think, from the feedback from the customers, it’s a small kind of intimate venue where everybody is… The main idea for me was family-orientated, safe environment and providing great service to the customers, that was the biggest thing for me. The staff training that we’ve done was mainly based on service, service, service.
Money is pretty hard to come by these days and I think people come now for something to eat… got to be looked after, got to be looked after. So that was biggest thing for me.
Service, service, service. Looking after families, looking after everyone who walks through the door. That’s basically the biggest thing for me.

Q. What feedback have you received from the customers so far?

A. The feedback we’ve got is that they absolutely love the place, you know. They love coming here. We have customers who come… come in for breakfast and then come in for dinner. They love the environment, how bright it is now, they love the flowers in the outside… it’s brighten up the town, that kind of thing. They are able to sit outside and enjoy their coffee outside, whereas these things you couldn’t do them before. So, that’s really been the feedback, so may long continue.

Q. Kilsyth is a close-knit community. How does the work you do contribute to that sense of belonging and togetherness?

A. The Scarecrow is right in the hub of the community, is right in the middle, you know. I reckon people, this is the main point they walk through all the time all day. The feedback that I’ve got as well is that there’s nowhere like this in Kilsyth.
It was really important to make it a family-friendly environment, to make it a safe environment. That was key for building the place. That it was because it’s such a close-knit community, family orientated, that we provided a safe environment for families to come. No matter what time it was. Day, night, whenever. That was really key for us to do that.

Q. Do you still have the gig nights?

A. That’s actually just started back. So we’ve started back with our open mic night every second Thursday and there’ll be band on a Saturday night as well – most Saturdays. Yes, that will be up in the public bar area.
So this, that was originally the lounge bar area, is like an extension of the restaurant. So none of the live music will be in here, this will be mainly food orientated. But the sport will still be on, there will be good playlists on music wise. Just a safe environment. That was idea to create.

Q. What would you say to those people that haven’t been to the Scarecrow yet to encourage them to visit?

A. I’d just say come give us a try. Come in, let us look after you, do our job, do our best: look after customers. Good value for money and a safe environment to bring your family. That was the idea.

Q. What’s your menu’s favourite?

A. Probably the steak pie. I don’t think you can beat a good steak pie. A good traditional steak pie.

Q. Do you work with other businesses and suppliers within the community?

Yeah, absolutely. That was again, once the full refurb was done, the main idea was to bring businesses together, businesses who we can use, local suppliers. We use Cross Butchers across the road, we use Rennies as well, the bakers. The bread is incredible, the produce we get from the butchers is incredible, as well. That was the idea in use local businesses, to put in my menu, you know? That was the idea.

Q. Can you tell us the story of the building and how you have preserved it?

A. It’s actually quite an exciting story. It was three kind of different compartments. So there was a bakers, Galbraithes I’m pretty sure it was*, in the square, you had the bike shop next door and you had a shop as well. So it was kind of three separate businesses, you know. And the development took over nine or ten years. We developed the full place into what it is today, and that was William Smith, the Smith family, when he bought it over and it took a few years to get it done.
The place is incredible, and I think the story is pretty incredible as well. There are some references throughout the building as well, as I was saying, if you know, you know.
The bike next door, if you knew it was a bike shop before you would see the reference, so I think that’s quite interesting.

*Andrew has made a correction here: he confirms it was called Johnsons Bakers

Q. Why do you think the Scarecrow should be the winner in its category?

A. We’re pretty overwhelmed just to be shortlisted. If we win it then amazing, but just happy to put the Scarecrow in the map a wee bit. Like I said, all the staff, the customers that come in, it’s been phenomenal, you know. But just to be nominated for it, it’s enough to be shortlisted, you know. But if we win it great, but it’s good for us just to be shortlisted.