The last few years have seen numerous changes on the short parade of shops on Clarence Drive. Units have closed down and new businesses have come in to serve a discerning West End community that loves its independent retailers. So who’s who and what are they bringing to the area?
Matthew at The Good Spirits Company was my first port of call. With two city centre stores already under his belt when the old Peckham & Rye unit came up he jumped at the chance: perfect location and licensing already in place! With an eclectic range and knowledgeable staff, Matthew has achieved what he set out to create – the kind of store he’d like to shop in full of exciting and delicious products not found in the supermarkets.
With bottles open to taste at the weekends as standard, in the run up to Christmas Matthew and his team will be holding a further series of inhouse pouring sessions with select suppliers. Check out their social media for more information nearer the time.
With every single bottle hand-picked by Matthew there’s scope for some truly exciting and usual gifts. The team are currently refining their own Christmas cocktail recipes to bottle as the perfect stocking filler – I’d be delighted with that in my stocking come Christmas morning.
Next door Llicorella Deli is reaching its first anniversary as this edition hits the streets, and owner James wouldn’t be anywhere else. With a passion for cheese unsurpassed by anyone I’ve ever met before James keeps a small discerning stock in the deli but can order anything special in with 24 hours notice. With three different cheese suppliers each with unique cheese not found elsewhere, including the winning goats’ cheese for 2017 – James can keep you happily chatting on his favourite subject.
With fourteen years in catering, many of those as a sommelier, James had the contacts he needed to open his own deli when the opportunity arose. With fresh fruit and vegetables delivered every day he’s open, the made-to-order gourmet sandwiches he serves are fresh and served with his own fig glaze or herb dressings and on his own bread. Getting in to work every day at 6.30am to mix and prove his own bread for that day’s fresh loaves and lunch rush is part of James’ day. After which he heads home to walk his daughter to school before making it back in for 9am and the coffee and cake crowd.
The 16th November sees Llicorella and The Good Spirit Company teaming up for a Wine Fair at Hughenden Rugby Club – it’s a ticketed event so remember to book via either store. James will host a cheese stall and be taking orders for cheese hampers for Christmas. These will include cheese, great coffee and vouchers to be used in both Llicorella and The Good Spirit Company.
At the other end of the longevity scale Hely Hair Studio first opened at 25 Clarence Drive in 1944 – and moved back in 2013! With three generations of hairdressers, starting with Robert Hely back in 1924, current owners, siblings Gary and Sindy Hely, are part of Glasgow Hairdressing royalty.
Open seven days a week Hely Hair Studio is a hive of activity with twelve full and part-time stylists working from the premises. Gary is passionate about hairdressing and only works with the best people and products in the industry.
With an Express Pamper Bar by La Biosthetique in addition to the hairdressing services Gary and his team offer, clients can enjoy a make-up refesh after a cut and colour to head straight out into town. And booking couldn’t be easier with their 24/7 online booking service. Gary uses Paul Mitchell in-salon products and Schwarzkopf Professional for colour finding clients are much better at looking after their hair than before and demand the best in-salon treatments.
As a resident Westender moving salons back to the West End from Sauchiehall Street was a no-brainer: Gary and Sindy love the community feel in Hyndland.
Next door to Hely is clothes boutique Solo – a Hyndland stalwart long on Hyndland Road. Since Samantha took the reigns back in 2012 fashion lines have included Marc Cain, Jane Luchka and Herno Coats, among others, to appeal to the fashion forward professional woman. With a background in fashion buying for a major chain in London, Samantha came to Solo with fresh ideas for her new venture. Six years on she offers a personal shopping service and style consultation in-store – though these must be booked first.
With long serving and knowledgeable assistants looking after valued clients the future for Solo on Clarence Drive looks rosy.
Newcomer Campbell’s of Hyndland has caused a quickening of pulses since Crawford opened its doors back in August. With a 35 year pedigree of cheffing in such illustrious venues as London’s two Michelin starred Pied à Terre, Crawford was ready to move back to his home city of Glasgow and a new challenge. After a successful year down in Partick the opportunity arose to expand to Hyndland and the rest as they say…
Before setting up either venue Crawford spent four months travelling right around the coast of Scotland speaking directly to the fishermen whose produce he liked the most and setting up accounts with only the best. Now we can enjoy Loch Fyne oysters and kippers, Shetland salmon, and haddock, cod and lemon sole directly off the boats as they come in at Peterhead – provenance is all.
From the 1st of November Liz at the Hyndland shop can take orders for their new home delivery service – invaluable for older residents in tenement flats. Simply order before midday and supplies will be delivered by 5pm that day. Also launching the same day will be Crawford’s cook-at-home packs for home chefs. With all the ingredients from fish, shellfish, or meat, to vegetables, spices and sauces: everything will be contained with the recipe method for a great tasting home cooked meal from a Michelin trained chef. Now that is pretty special.
Also very upbeat is Paulo next door in the local chippy. Having been on Clarence Drive for twelve years it’s only Paulo’s and pizza bar Casa Blanca that have survived the test of time. Over the past year Paulo has seen a definite rise in footfall on the street and can only see that improving with the new businesses coming in and no empty units.
With top quality whiting and angel haddock on offer, Paulo’s does a roaring trade at lunch time with the local high school kids. Praising the school and the great kids there Paulo even began opening before break to supply hungry learners with top breakfast stalwarts – a roll and square for me please.
Always testing the demand Paulo began opening on a Sunday four years ago to test the uptake and now is open seven days a week to keep locals in their fish and sausage suppers. He puts his success down to always buying the best stock and having really nice regulars.
Newest kid on the block is a local branch of Subway – causing much excitement amongst Hyndland Secondary school kids. I haven’t seen it but apparently the queue at lunch-time is the stuff of legend. Now, not everyone loves a chain but Harpreet and his team are serving up salads, wraps and baguettes and snack-loving locals are buying it up.
Longest serving member of the Clarence Drive business community accolade goes to Farhad at Casa Blanca. With 15 years on the drive selling his freshly made pizzas, pastas and barbequed meats, Farhad’s love of the area and its community really comes across. When his first child was born regulars came in with cards and gifts and Farhad was really touched by the network of clients, and now friends, he’d won with his food and friendly personality.
Casa Blanca was born out of a desire to produce restaurant quality Italian food as a great quality takeaway option. The idea that takeaway food is merely ‘junk food’ was wrong to Farhad and all of his pizza bases are made freshly in-store every day, as are all his pasta sauces. With pizza topping choices of parma ham, artichoke and sun dried tomatoes Casa Blanca’s restaurant standard fare has kept Westenders coming back for a decade-and-a-half and long may it continue.
Generally lovely guy to be around, Gurdeep at the Hyndland Post Office and Premier Store, is an advocate for the Hyndland community and his great staff –
a sentiment generally shared.
Gurdeep’s children went to
Hyndland Secondary School so when the opportunity to buy the Hyndland Post Office arose he was quick to see its potential in such a lovely area. Prior to Gurdeep coming onboard six years ago the branch was actually up for closure and upset locals had to set up a petition to keep it open. Now a major refurbishment later and the post office service and Premier store are booming.
Open seven days a week and with full post office services available from 7.30am to 10pm, the same as the store, Gurdeep has gone from offering euros only to a full foreign exchange service of 28 currencies. He is very proud as he relates this to me, and so he should be – it’s a major achievement when so many other small businesses are struggling and being consolidated into much bigger city centre based units. Gurdeep is keeping it local and Hyndland locals vote with their feet, straight into his store.
Last visit is to Shannon, one quarter of the all-female management team at The Hyndland Fox. Part of the G1 Group under Stefan King, The Fox has a relaxed vibe just right for the casual brunch crowd, great coffee for the young mums, and a casual dining atmosphere as the lights are dimmed and candles lit for the evening diners – it’s a real community go-to space.
Shannon has been at the venue for two years and knows all the regulars but notes there has been an upturn in new faces as fresh businesses have opened on the road. This bodes well for their busiest time of the year – the festive period. With loads of events and offers planned it’s her favourite time of the year, though the working hours are long.
Shannon plans all the events from the live sets on a Friday and Saturday evening to the Gingerbread Man Decorating classes coming up for families. Keep an eye out on Facebook and Instagram for more details and loads of Festive special offers – including their popular Twelve Offers of Christmas each day from the 1st to 12th of December. With the Festive Cocktail list and Winter Warmers primed and ready and a 20% discount card for Hyndland locals Monday-Fridays, the team at The Hyndland Fox have Christmas sorted.
Speaking to all the businesses on Clarence Drive one thing in particular is clear – they all really do like each other, a lot. Shannon at The Hyndland Fox will pop into Gurdeep at the Post Office for change, James at Llicorella will send customers next door to The Good Spirit Company for a wine pairing with one of his speciality cheeses. It’s a nice thing. It should be celebrated.