A GLASGOW restaurateur forced to close her doors at the beginning of lockdown is getting ready to take a gamble with a reincarnation of a West End favourite.

Mhairi Taylor is just days away from unveiling a revamp at the former Café and DeliZique in Hyndland, and while opening up any hospitality business during these turbulent times might be considered a risk, that is not what she is most concerned about.

In the past 20 years Café Zique became a firm favourite of West Enders looking for a trendy brunch venue, but when doors open next week the café element will be dropped along with their famous Eggs Benedict which will no longer be on the menu.

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With months in lockdown it has given Ms Taylor has chance to decide what she wanted to do with the business and tampering with the brunch menu is not the only change. Lockdown gave her a new appetite for cooking and she is getting back to her comfort zone in the kitchen.

Mindful of people wanting to feel safe and confident when they eat out, Zique, as the venue will now be known will give people more space and social distance.

“I suppose I am taking a risk, but I just felt I couldn’t go on doing the same thing and serving up dozens of eggs every day,” she said. “Lockdown gave me a chance to really think about where I could take the restaurant. I love to cook and was cooking for family. My cousin asked one day why he could eat delicious healthy food when he came to my home, but not in my restaurant and it got me thinking.

“I think the way people eat and how they source their food has changed a lot over the past few months. I know I love to cook with a lot of vegetables and I suppose I cook by colour, and I hope people will embrace the change in the restaurant.”

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Opening up just days before Christmas is proving to be a mix of excitement and an adrenaline rush. Ms Taylor and her team are desperate to get back to cooking and serving people.

She added: “I think we have all really missed seeing our customers and we are desperate to welcome them back. When compiling the new menu I certainly had a few of the customers in mind. Glasgow Warrior rugby players are among the customers I used as a benchmark when choosing new dishes. We have gone a little more vegetarian and vegan and just creating lovely, healthy dishes and I thought ‘yes I think the rugby team would eat this.’”

It is no surprise that the mother of three and stepmother of three has gone back to her roots with her inspired healthy dishes.

“Growing up I remember my mum Jean and stepfather John being very ahead of the curve and creating really interesting food,” added Ms Taylor. “My grandfather was also very keen on growing vegetables and cooking and I learned a lot from him when he used to look after me and my brother after school.”

Her grandfather Donald McGregor has more than just an influence, he is the Zique in what was Café Zique, and what was once Deli Zique and Gather Zique a few doors along from the impressive corner site in Hyndland Street.

“My grandfather fought in the International Brigade against General Franco in Spain and when he came back he had earned the nickname Zique, so I called my business after him.”

Revamping the restaurant, with a £50,000 investment, at a time when social distancing restrictions are in place has been turned into an opportunity for Zique.

Ms Taylor, 55, added: “We have made more space in the restaurant to give people more space and social distancing is something we see as being a positive thing. We can give our customers that space to feel confident about dining with us. We have also developed an outdoor terrace area, but given our climate I wanted to make it a cosy area.

“We can’t give out blankets or throws because of covid, so came up with the idea of hiring out water bottles. Money raised from this will go towards supplying hot water bottles to those who are homeless and I hope there will be a few places who will come on board to help them fill up their bottles when it is most needed.”

After more than 20 years in the restaurant business, Ms Taylor believes that Glasgow’s hospitality scene will bounce back and be stronger.

She added: “Glasgow is a sociable as are the people and I think they will have really missed going out to their favourite cafes, restaurants and bars. I think it will bounce back.”