BARRIE Henderson had been part of his family’s business for almost 20 years until it closed last summer. His grandmother, Janet Henderson, opened vegetarian restaurant Hendersons of Edinburgh in 1962, encouraging people to embrace a meat-free lifestyle with wholesome food, much of it grown on her farm in East Lothian.

Not content to see his grandmother’s legacy disappear, Barrie is beginning a new chapter with the opening of a new Hendersons near Edinburgh’s Bruntsfield Links in early September. The focus will continue on producing nutritious dishes for all to enjoy.

Work has begun to renovate the premises on Barclay Place, formerly The Apartment. Barrie says it was a difficult decision for the family to close their original restaurant.

“I’ve been working in the business since I was 14. I well like I was in with the bricks of the building, it was a huge part of my life. At the start of the pandemic, a lot of restaurants were in a very difficult situation.

“I had been general manager of Hendersons for about five years. I didn’t want the business to close but my family tried to make the best decision at the time” he says.

“I took some time out . . . eight months during lockdown to get my head together. I wasn’t planning to reopen but I was getting messages from friends and customers, really supportive, and saying it would be great if I opened up somewhere.

“After a while I thought I want to continue the legacy of Hendersons. I’ve an eight-year-old son and it’s part of our family history. I want to keep the spirit of independent restaurants alive.”

Barrie was further encouraged by current food trends and enthusiasm for plant-based dishes.

“A lot of people are switched on to what they are eating, paying attention to ingredients, avoiding certain food groups. It’s become totally normal to design dishes around people’s different dietary requirements,” he says.

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Hendersons opened in Edinburgh in 1962, blazing a trail for the vegetarian and a healthy-eating lifestyle. Initially an outlet for the organic produce grown at Janet and Mac Henderson’s East Lothian farm, it expanded to a bistro bar and the popular Salad Table restaurant.

Almost six decades later, in the summer of 2020, the Edinburgh food scene was shocked to hear Hendersons had closed. Barrie worked in the old organic bakery, the kitchen and front of house when the company was run by his uncle Nicholas and father Oliver.

He took a two-year hiatus in 2010, gaining experience in Germany, then as a chef at Inver in the Inner Hebrides under the direction of Pamela Brunton. He would go on to gain a Masters in hospitality and helped Hendersons win several awards including Green Family Business of the Year.

Barrie says Bruntsfield is a thriving neighbourhood in Edinburgh and he is looking forward to being part of the local community with his new venture. “Everyone has been super-welcoming,” he says. “It is nice to meet all the people in the area. I feel like there is a growing local food and drink focus in Bruntsfield and people are gravitating in that direction.”

The new restaurant will feature some of the mainstays of the Henderson family cookbook. “We will be rebooting some of the old classics and I will be introducing some new modern dishes. Veggie haggis, chocolate mousse, vegetable curries with rice – I want to put a new spin on the food that customers have grown up with and come to expect from Hendersons.

“Paul Kayne will be our head chef and Nives Arosio will be a senior chef. I worked with both for years at Hanover Street so I know how incredibly talented they are. We are getting or team together and it’s a good feeling”.