ONE of Glasgow’s best known restaurateurs has pinpointed Maryhill as the up and coming part of the city as he unveiled details of his latest venture in the west end.

Hospitality veteran Alan Tomkins, whose portfolio includes Urban Bar and Brasserie and the Western Dining Club, has completed a deal with partner Calum Lawson to acquire The Strathmore Bar on Maryhill Road outright.

Mr Tomkins and Mr Lawson have run the Strathmore with an unnamed joint venture partner for the last three years, having transformed a “closed, derelict working man’s pub” into a contemporary bar. They added a glasshouse extension and outdoor patio as part of the renovations.

Now the pair are poised to relaunch the venue as The Botany later this month, with the duo reshaping the outlet to move more decisively into the casual dining market. The latest investment takes to more than £200,000 the amount which has been spent on the venue, which looks out to the revitalised Forth & Clyde Canal, since they first became involved.

The Botany launches amid the continuing renaissance of the Maryhill area, with the venue surrounded by a host of new housing, including luxury flat developments.

A new school is planned for the area behind the venue, while on nearby Garscube Road a major new medical centre is being built.

Mr Tomkins, a former long-standing chairman of the Glasgow Restaurateurs' Association, said the project is “one of the most exciting” he has been involved in for some time.

He said: “One of the attractions for us to go to the area in the first place, and it has now been confirmed to us, is that there are big changes out there.

“If you look at some of the lovely flatted buildings that have been created overlooking the canal, there’s big investment [being made]. There is a big new school getting built in the area behind us.

“If you just go down to Garscube Road, which is about 300 yards the other way, there is a massive big new medical centre getting built as well.

“This is just underpinning that the area is transformed and there is a lot of new accommodation, so obviously services have to be provided. It’s one of the most exciting things I have done in a while.”

Noting that the venue enjoys strong trading on Partick Thistle match days, given its relatively close proximity to Firhill Stadium, Mr Tomkins added: “We really like being part of the community. We feel like we are bringing something to the area as it develops.”

Asked what inspired the venue’s new name, Mr Tomkins said it stems from a notorious part of the area’s past, when convicts were transported along to the canal before making their ultimate journey to Botany Bay in Australia. The name is also a nod to the nearby Botanic Gardens.

Mr Tomkins said trading at the bar over the last three years led him to conclude it would operate more effectively as a casual dining restaurant.

He added: “We’ve realised that there’s much more of an appetite for a restaurant in the area than we first had envisaged.”

Meanwhile, Mr Tomkins described trading at his other ventures as steady, despite the challenges which have beset major brands in the casual dining sector. He said: “Fortunately, I have got diverse places, but the general underlying thing is that it is very competitive. It is well reported that increasing salary costs in the service industry do come to bear. Rates have gone up and since the Brexit development the cost of lots of purchasing – food and wine – has dramatically increased.

“It’s probably much more challenging that it has been, but Glasgow is a very resilient place. Glaswegians still like to go out, have a nice time and have a good weekend.”