Heading North on our tour, we arrived at the UK’s City of Discovery, Dundee. We were lucky enough to be there on a Thursday, taking in a busy lunch and dinner service, before the weekly quiz kicked off. Fun times!
The husband and wife team, Tommy and Jacqueline Fox, run The Barrelman. An impressive venue, The Barrelman offers customers a space to gather for drinks, food, and entertainment. We were struck by the stylish, creative interiors. It’s the perfect addition to a city bustling with students and creative industry-types. The Barrelman is such a great example of the magic that can happen when a talented publican with a clear vision takes on a Star Pubs & Bars pub marked for investment. We wanted to dig into his story to uncover where the inspiration came from, and how he got to where he is today.
Why The Barrelman?
For Tommy and Jacqueline, The Barrelman stood out for them as they searched across Scotland for a site to take on. Finding it on the Star Pubs & Bars website, it was clear that the bar was something that the pair could grow, particularly because it was earmarked for refurbishment investment. They also recognised the wider investment happening across the city as being good news for the hospitality industry. “The location was fantastic for us. The size of the venue matched exactly what we wanted to do,” explains Tommy.
Refurbishing to discover new opportunities.
With Dundee’s rich history and heritage in Antarctic exploration, Tommy wanted to honour the heritage through interior style, while focusing the branding and creativity around the concept of discovery. Tommy had a clear idea of the creative concept, looking to transform what was a dark pub space, into a bright and impressive venue for a range of customers and experiences.
The refurbishment was a collaborative process between Tommy, Jacqueline and our investment, property and business development teams. As it should be. Tommy and Jacqueline brought the creative vision and the business plan. And we brought the expertise to develop their ideas and bring them to life. “We're very picky with what we wanted. So, I imagine we were probably a bit of a nightmare at times,” Tommy laughed. Hey, no hard feelings when the result is this good and customers are happy!
You can read about our advice for approaching a pub refurbishment here.
Creativity and innovation are at its core.
With a background in computer science and having been involved in marketing before, Tommy makes sure he’s using the latest technologies and creative tools to enhance his customers’ experiences and ensure the bar’s marketing is cutting edge. It’s something he takes pride in and dedicates time and investment to. Fair play for teaching himself to use software packages while running the pub.
He’s loved restaurants since he was a kid, visiting with his parents. While other kids might have focused on the chips in front of them, Tommy told us about being mesmerized by the inner workings of the restaurant – the cogs that needed to turn to make a good service happen.
Having worked in hospitality since his teens, Tommy is passionate about the service and experience he and his team create. Committed to, as he puts it, “making people feel special and giving people an amazing experience” as soon as they enter the bar, Tommy, Jacqueline and the team focus on the customer and what they’re looking for. Their passion for service is clear.
The sweet spot for the venue is, due to its size and with plenty of smaller areas, catering for group bookings and small functions. And we can’t forget the popular weekly quiz, hosted by Tommy himself, made possible by using TVs positioned throughout the venue. As you can see from the film, the atmosphere every Thursday night at The Barrelman is electric!
It’s first on our list next time we’re in North-East Scotland. Congrats to Tommy, Jacqueline and the team for creating something so impressive!