Having grown up in the Southside of Glasgow for most of my life, I had gotten used to the idea that there wasn’t anything that exciting going on. Not many good places to have a beer or even sit and have some lunch. It was the kind of place you grabbed a pint in an “old man pub” to watch the football or picked up a roll and square from the local cafe. The Westenders had always looked down on us a bit (well until they had kids and had to move here). Deep down we all knew the West End was a lot cooler but we were Southsiders at heart.
The hipsters are coming!
Then something crazy happened in the area of Strathbungo. An organic cafe opened up called Tapa, then another cafe opened, then another and another. Also, the local pubs started changing hands. The Fotheringay became The Bungo, Strathie’s turned into The Rum Shack and Sammy Dows even became a Lebowskis. At the heart of this change was the Allison Arms. The Ally Arms started stocking a large selection of German and UK craft beer in its fridges. Many a hipster could be found there sipping on a cold IPA side-by-side with an old boy downing a pint of Glasgow’s finest. The gentrification of the southside was finally underway.
Welcome to Marchtown
A new addition to this ever-expanding gentrification is Marchtown. Not just a cafe or a bar, this establishment is many things. It’s a cozy little place, with the feel of a Spanish wine bar. You can enjoy a glass of wine with some antipasti or if beer is your thing they have 2 kegs and a well-stocked fridge. The focus here is on Scottish beers, with most of the craft Scottish breweries represented. The range is always changing with new beers replacing the old to keep things interesting. If you don’t want to sit in then you can take the bottles home and there is a substantial discount if you do. They also have a fully equipped tasting room down the stairs that not only is used for tastings but other events like woodcarving.
Meeting up with Mr Anthony Reynolds
I got the chance to meet up with one of the owners Anthony to ask him some questions about the place.
Q.Tell us a wee bit about yourself?
I worked with Oddbins while studying towards a degree. After I finished my degree I realised I actually wanted to leave it behind and focus on my main passion, wine & beer. The opportunity arrived when my business partner Kimberly, who owned a successful florist/coffee shop moved out of her location in Strathbungo into larger premises focusing on the floristry. She asked me if I wanted to turn the old premises into a wine bar, which I said I would love to do as long as there was a wine/beer shop aspect to the business.
Q. Was there any real troubles in trying to get the place open?
Building control and licensing were the main obstacles. It took 13 months to get the alcohol license granted. The unit already had its own trading permission which allowed us to open as a sort of pop-up shop. We did arts & crafts, sold flowers and served cakes and coffee over the weekend. Towards the end of the year, we applied for an occasional license which allowed us to run a mini wine and beer festival and also do some in-house tastings.
Q. So what’s Marchtown all about?
It’s hard to explain in one sentence but what I would say is it’s a specialist off-licence shop with a cafe attached. It’s also a hub for other things going on in the area. We’ll be hosting regular tastings in our tasting room, along with arts & craft workshops.
Q. What does the name mean?
Marchtown is what Strathbungo use to be called. The area historically sits on the boundary between the parishes of Renfrewshire, Lanarkshire, and Govan. The boundary between parishes is called marches. The story go’s that around the area there would have been Inns that were built on these boundaries and they had two doors on them. One opening onto the Renfrewshire side and one onto the Lanarkshire side. And if you were drinking in one of them and the sheriff came in and you owed them money you could escape by fleeing into the opposite parish.
Q. What sort of things are people buying?
Not surprisingly, our wines by the glass are flying out the door and at £3 a small glass they’re offering some really good value. At the moment we have a white and a red from the Sicilian producer Pieno Sud. Our wines are seasonal and change regularly. As far as beer goes the light styles such as lagers and pales have been working well for us. One of the most popular has been Tempest Long White Cloud.
Q. Why have you chosen only Scottish beers?
To begin with, it was to make things simple by focusing on one country. Customers like the fact that they can pick from over 70 beers and they’re all Scottish. They also have a low carbon footprint and that is something my customers appreciate. I do think that we will be changing the range in the near future because there is a lot of really exciting beers from all over the world that I would love to get my hands on.
Q. If you could only pick one bottle of wine that you sell to drink what would it be?
It depends on the day of the week but deep down I’m a fizzy wine man! So it would have to be La Vida al Camp Cava. It’s bone dry, has really yeasty notes and a very exquisite mouth feel and mouse.
Looking forward trying that Cava! Thanks Anthony for taking the time to answer a few questions.
Click here for the Marchtown website
Also Click here to check out a tasting we have coming up in Marchtown on Sunday the 4th June