A group of Aberdeen businesses have joined forces to bring a new outdoor al fresco bar and dining area to the city centre in order to get more of their staff back to work.
Independent firms The Craftsman Company, Aberdeen Douglas Hotel, Molly’s Bistro and Irish pub Malones Bar have teamed up to create The Ivy Lodge which opens tomorrow [November 5] at 4pm.
The venues came together as a result of the coronavirus restrictions affecting hospitality businesses to help give local staff the opportunity to take on more shifts and support them further in the lead up to Christmas.
The Ivy Lodge will be able to seat 40 covers and will be open seven days a week operating from 4-10pm Mondays to Fridays, noon to 10pm on Saturdays and noon to 8pm on Sundays. A range of pizzas will be served and a full bar of drinks will be available for customers to enjoy.
Spearheaded by Keith Martin, owner of The Craftsman Company and co-owner of Malones Bar, Mary Martin and Robert Keane of the Aberdeen Douglas Hotel say they were delighted to partner with the businessman to help keep their staff busy, and also support other food and drink businesses by giving them the opportunity to host pop-ups at the space.
Keith said: “The Aberdeen Douglas Hotel had the space at the back and the one thing a lot of places lack is outdoor space. The council have been really accommodating at the other end of town with the likes of Soul Bar and Cafe Andaluz so we wanted to use it the best way we could.
“We closed everything in March when lockdown first kicked in and are very conscious of just how dangerous this virus is. Making it viable to open indoors, even in Tier 2 is tricky, so at least it is a lot safer offering something outdoors.
“Many of the staff weren’t getting the work they needed and it is great as although it is on the Douglas’ premises, we’ve incorporated staff from Malones Bar and The Craftsman Company, too, so everyone will be on rotation.”
Safety is paramount
Operating at less than half the capacity, Keith says it is important to ensure customer and staff’s safety is continuously at the forefront of the venue and have restricted maximum table numbers as a result.
“It is semi weather-proof with only half of it being exposed and we’ll have heaters to keep customers warm,” said Keith.
“We could have put in 93 seats, but we’ve just kept it at 40. The majority of the tables are for two, and we’ll have a few for four available. We’ve done it this way to keep the numbers small and to restrict more than two households meeting up.
“There will be a one-way system in operation. You’ll have to wear your mask on entering and can take it off when you’re seated. We will also do temperature controls, carry out Track and Trace, table service and we’ll have an online ordering app where you scan the barcode and a menu will pop up. We’ll also have a live booking system for customers to book so we don’t have queues.”
The new venture will see further partnerships with local businesses, with Fierce Bar on Exchequer Row also involved in the project. Though their staff will not be on the rota at the venue, The Ivy Lodge will stock a range of their beers and the Douglas has also had a Fierce beer line added to further support the local brewer.
And Keith is encouraging other local food and drink firms unable to get back open to get involved with pop-up events in the shared space.
The offering – pizza and boozy hot drinks
The venue will serve up a range of homemade pizza’s including vegan and veggie options and boozy hot drinks such as Bailey’s hot chocolate, mulled cider, a hot toddy and the Ivy coffee which features whisky, espresso and whipped cream.
Keith added: “We will be using the ballroom facilities of the hotel as the car park where The Ivy Lodge is based out the back, so the ballroom is easily accessible. The kitchen is huge as it’s used to catering for 250 people, so we’ll be able to welcome other street food vendors in as we’re only using a small area for the pizzas. We will also use the toilet facilities which cater to these numbers, too, so there’s plenty of space to socially distance.
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“We’ll stick to pizzas coming from the hotel but we’ll give the likes of businesses similar to Avo or even Roots Catering the opportunity to use the space as a pop-up. We could even have the team at Orchid and Dusk come down to pop out some drinks one weekend on a themed menu.
“All of the food and drink will come from the hotel but you’ll be able to get some of Fierce’s beers, cocktails from The Craftsman and other items that.”
Determined to bring a different feel to the Shiprow area, Keith is hopeful they will be able to create a “village feel” which will attract more people to the other side of the town.
“We want to build up a the place and create something like a Shiprow village. We’re looking to see if we can get fairy lights up the street to create a nice atmosphere for everyone up this side of town and bring Fierce and Malones, which are on each end of the street, into the equation. We want to brighten everything up,” said Keith.
“This will hopefully help a range of businesses in the run-up to Christmas. The site is one of the sites we had spoken to the team at STAXX Aberdeen about, and we are also looking at a bigger development for that area.”