by Aly Fraser – 11th Jan ’10
With over 40 properties throughout the country, native chain G1 Group lends considerable weight to the Scottish entertainment scene. Independentlyowning an array of bars, clubs, restaurants. cinemas and hotels they have turned their attention to the old casino and tourism office in Edinburgh’s West End. Laying idle and unloved on Rutland Place for a several years now, it has been left out of the recent redevelopment and renewal of the West End. However its luck has changed. Scheduled to be completed in March 2010 with the new name ‘Ghillie Dhu’ it is set to have a bar and bistro on the ground floor and underneath the newly uncovered, classic vaulted ceiling upstairs an ‘entertainment venue’ unashamedly aimed at being one of Edinburgh’s best Fringe venues.
It would seem then that the newbie on the block shall fit in with the current upmarket locals. There is the ‘reminiscent of New York’ Hudson Bar and its stylish subterranean sister Bacaro Club or the bold UV-coloured Club Berlin. However on Princes Street’s final throe before merging with Shandwick Place comes the Ghillie Dhu’s immediate neighbour, the impressive and expensive Rutland Hotel, 5 seconds from the Caledonian Hilton. No qualms about location then.
G1 Group have decided to adopt the strategy of not outsourcing their means of bringing in the comedians, musicians and theatre productions but instead doing it themselves. This is creates more risk yet adds the bonus of creating yet more jobs. Tie this in with their reputation of being sympathetic and tasteful when reinstating older buildings, G1 Group sound like a healthy investment for the city.
A short jaunt up the road is the HMV Picturehouse. Opened in mid-2008 it thus heralded a new burst of energy for Edinburgh’s lagging music scene. It lacked a larger, inner-city venue for years and the Picturehouse is regarded has being they key of irrevocably improving it. It has attracted bigger bands which would have only ever played at the other end of the M8. With plans to put on theatre productions the Ghillie Dhu’s live venue doesn’t inspire visions of an airing cupboard and another roomier addition to Edinburgh’s music scene can be no bad thing. Some believe there is a problem however. This new shining, beacon of Scottish development has a Gaelic name. It is to be Scottish-themed. That phrase may well inspire a bout of knuckle-biting among many. People are worried that the staff will inevitably be adorned with some shade of tartan and they will have a list of expensive whiskys on the wall and there may even be scheduled ceilidhs. However this ensures that the place will be ‘hoachin’ throughout the summer, bursting at its tartan seams with rich tourists spending money on the inevitable haggis and whisky. Simultaneously upstairs some of the best comical talent Britain has to offer will be making the Tennents-in-hand natives laugh. Other than sounding like am Orwellian dream it is being hailed as a great asset to the International festival.
No exact date in March has been scheduled for the grand opening but as long as the Ghillie Dhu is open before the festival begins it can iron out any creases before the big push. Nobody would see any harm in attracting a few popular comedians and bands for a test run inbetween times however.