Future of historic pub in doubt

Jennifer Campbell

Fears have been raised over the future of the historic Tennent’s Bar.

Announced changes to the layout and services provided by the popular Byres Road institution, Tennent’s Bar, has led to fears that it is to become a modernized ‘gastro-pub’ or brasserie.

Reports initially stated that Tennent’s was to become a ‘Nicholson’s pub,’ under a brand operated by its owners Mitchells and Butlers who also own such chains as All Bar One, Brown’s and Toby Carvery.

While this may entail changes to the pub’s menu, pricing and branding, Tennent’s will retain its name and traditional decor, with staff also staying on after the change.

Over 450 people have signed petitions in opposition to the plans, with signatures being collected both online and within the pub.

A spokesperson for Mitchells and Butlers attempted to lay aside concerns of change for to bar, claiming that changes to the premises will not have the impact many people fear.

He explained: “We are aware that the future of Tennents Bar has recently been called into question, becoming the topic of much speculation. We therefore welcome this opportunity to do our very best to reassure customers and the wider community that Tennents Bar’s future as a traditional pub is in no way in doubt.

We’d like to be clear that Mitchells & Butlers has proudly owned and successfully operated Tennents Bar for over 20 years.  Contrary to some reports it has not recently been bought or sold.  But more importantly, Tennents Bar will continue to be a real pub – not a brasserie, not a restaurant and not a gastro pub.

Tennents Bar is an institution in the West End of Glasgow, both for locals and as a destination in its own right.  It is a place that has a very loyal following for a variety of reasons but notably because of its atmosphere, its range of real ales and its dedicated staff.”

The spokesman went on to outline the plans to renovate the Basement Bar section of Tennent’s, which will become a kitchen area, taking away an area frequently used by students and university societies. This includes the Politics Society, who have used the area regularly for their ‘Pint and Politics’ meetings.

Pauline McNeill, MSP for the Glasgow Kelvin constituency, took the issue to the Scottish Parliament, telling fellow politicians that Tennent’s is “a landmark on Byres Road and a Glasgow institution.” McNeill also spoke out against the modernisation of the pub,

She said: “There are few traditional pubs left in the area and I believe that to change Tennent’s to a gastro-pub would have been a great loss to the area and to locals.”

Politics Society President, Jani Helle, said that the society had “found a home at the basement”, but would have to look elsewhere to hold meetings once the refurbishments begin.

The bar has a rich history and is well-known in the area. Only men were allowed until 1971, when a group of female protestors stormed the bar and were finally given the right to be served there, a story which is recorded on a panel outside the pub.


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