Dundee licensees mark two decades at popular city centre local


The licensees of one of Dundee city centre’s last remaining traditional locals have received a long service award to mark their 20th anniversary at the pub. Susan and Paul Russell are now aiming to clock up four decades at the helm of The Bank Bar on Union Street.

The award - from the pub’s owners Star Pubs & Bars - recognises the contribution Susan and Paul have made to the community. Over the years, the Russells and their regulars have raised more than £15,000 for Tayside Mountain Rescue, of which Paul is the Deputy Team Leader. The Bank Bar provides a friendly hub where people feel comfortable coming on their own and is a meeting place for Dundee groups ranging from philosophers to hill walkers. It is also one of the few live music venues left in the city and showcases a wide range of local musicians; the pub hosts Open Mic Nights on Wednesdays and Sundays where everyone is welcome and free Friday and Saturday night music sessions.

Dundee born-and-bred Susan used to be a customer of The Bank Bar enjoying lunches there with her mother in the 1990s and, when she heard it was short staffed, offered to help. Recalls Susan: “It was meant to be part-time and short-term but I fell in love with The Bank Bar. When it became available, Paul and I jumped at the chance to take it on as our own. It really was a dream come true.”

Formerly a branch of the TSB – of which Susan was a customer - the building turned into a pub around thirty years ago, taking the name The Bank Bar to reflect its history, and it still houses the bank’s original safe today. Since opening, The Bank Bar has been known for its friendly atmosphere, good home-cooked food and excellent beer. Whilst the Russells have built a name for cask ales – gaining cask marque accreditation and introducing ales from local breweries, brought in live music and made the pub dog-friendly, little else has changed. “We’ve seen trends come and go, old fashioned locals close and new style bars open, but we liked The Bank Bar as it was when we took over and we’ve remained true to that,” says Susan.

Despite the lack of changes, The Bank Bar is busier than ever and the Russells need a team of 12 staff – including Paul’s son Ciaran Russell who is Bar Manager – to keep up. The pub is serving regulars who’ve been customers for over 20 years, including the second generation of some Dundee families. It is also proving popular with the increasing number of international visitors coming to Dundee, many of whom are seeking out a traditional pub and an authentic Scottish experience.

Adds Susan, “It has been hard work but we’ve enjoyed every minute of our time at The Bank Bar and are looking forward to many more happy years here. We love meeting so many different people from all over the world and working with our fantastic staff and the musicians, who have all become great friends.”

Says Star Pubs & Bars area manager Brian Gray: It’s a tremendous achievement to keep a pub at the top of its game over 20 years and it’s all down to Susan and Paul, their high standards, brilliant service and great customer care. Thanks to them The Bank Bar has stood the test of time and remains a fantastic traditional local and a real asset to Dundee