When talk turns to Glasgow city centre, it often focuses on the empty retail units to be found on the once illustrious shopping streets of Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Street and Argyle Street which are now fighting for footfall in the wake of Covid.

Just a short walk away, however, the areas surrounding George Square are experiencing a resurgence in interest spurred on by a series of high-profile openings and proposed development plans.

The Flight Club social darts venue opened its doors in October last year, just in time for a flurry of Christmas parties and staff nights out.

The Herald: Pictured: Flight Club social darts bar opened in Glasgow last year after 'six years of planning' Pictured: Flight Club social darts bar opened in Glasgow last year after 'six years of planning' (Image: Flight Club Glasgow)

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Juliette Keyte, marketing manager, has revealed their sights were set on the unit at the corner of George Street and North Frederick Street long before welcoming their first customers.

“We signed on the dotted line on Valentine's Day in 2020, so the launch of our Glasgow location, our first in Scotland, was almost four years in the making.

“When we look at opening in a new city, we like to take our time to make sure we’re the right fit and that it will work well for us too.

“We considered a number of different places and were conscious of the fact that Glasgow has a lot of cool areas with different vibes, whether that’s the West End or the Southside.

“But being in the city centre, especially where we are, has been phenomenal so far.”

After years of delays due to Covid, the fun at Flight Club is now well underway with 3 million darts thrown at the venue in just three months.

Ms Keyte believes that their brand, first founded in Shoreditch by friends Steve Moore and Paul Barhamin, has achieved success in Scotland thanks in part to a prime location just metres away from George Square.

“We’re always hopeful that people will join us for a good time, but in Glasgow, we hit our weekly sales targets within six weeks which was unprecedented, and we continued to break records throughout December.

“That’s the kind of result you dream of in hospitality.

“We’re close to Queen Street Station but also have trade from weekday workers, students and then people coming to the city centre for a night out at the weekend.

“It really is a seven-day venue and a huge part of that is the location, our neighbours and the neighbours still to come.”

The Herald: Pictured: The Alchemist at George Square is a £1.6milllion pound branch of the popular UK wide cocktail bar chainPictured: The Alchemist at George Square is a £1.6milllion pound branch of the popular UK wide cocktail bar chain (Image: Supplied)

One of those neighbours is The Alchemist, a £1.6milllion pound branch of the popular UK wide cocktail bar and restaurant chain which opened at Unit 2 in George House in late December 2022.

The oldest of the ‘new kids on the block’, they always were certain that George Square would be the perfect home for their second Scottish location.

Jenny McPhee, brand director, said: “Were initially attracted to the site in Glasgow because of its strong location.

“While we recognised that the area had been considered ‘off pitch’ for some years, we felt that the actual geography was really strong.

“The regeneration of Queen Street station was a significant part of our thinking, and we felt that post-covid we might capture some renewed footfall and some new visitors, as people shrugged off the lockdowns and embraced feel-good experiences again.

“Of course, the Square itself has long been a focal point for the city, and, for us to secure a venue looking directly onto it felt like a real opportunity.”

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Discussions surrounding George Square have in recent years been dominated by the progress of the £100m Love Loan Development, an ambitious project from the Chris Stewart Group which unites an area enclosed by George Street, John Street, Martha Street and North Frederick Street bringing together the old and the new.

The Herald: Pictured: Chris Stewart, founder and CEO of the Chris Stewart GroupPictured: Chris Stewart, founder and CEO of the Chris Stewart Group (Image: Supplied)


Chris Stewart, founder and CEO of the Chris Stewart Group said: "Love Loan will redefine Glasgow's cityscape, and will be an exemplar project in terms of mixed use urban regeneration.

"It will be a showcase of the city's potential.

"With its diverse uses, architectural merits, and focus on sustainability, we believe Love Loan will set a precedent for future developments.

"The project shows what’s possible when new investment is attracted to the city centre, showcasing Glasgow as a hub for ambitious and imaginative projects supported by both public and private investment."

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Praised as a “key element of the development” is the 245-bedroom AC Hotel by Marriott Glasgow, also home to the Hazel restaurant, which was opened in November last year.

Craig Munro, general manager of the AC Hotel Glasgow, has said that he is thrilled to join the area, with fellow businesses all working together to create a sense of community.

“In the city centre, we rely on collaboration and the relationship we have with our neighbours is really refreshing.

“It feels like a family, and that goes wider still to businesses in the Merchant City area: we’re always having conversations about how to help each other out.

“We all bring something different to the table which benefits everyone.

“It’s a great way to advertise what Glasgow is all about.”

The Herald: Pictured: Craig Munro, general manager, AC by Marriott GlasgowPictured: Craig Munro, general manager, AC by Marriott Glasgow (Image: Supplied)

While the hospitality venues surrounding George Square enhance its appeal by providing everything from first-class dining to cocktails and after-dinner entertainment, Mr Munro says that their continued success depends on Glasgow’s ability to attract visitors on a global scale.

He said: “We rely on local organisations to really sell the city, whether that’s for international events or even concerts at Hampden or the Hydro.

“If there’s not a lot happening, that becomes a problem for us because there will be no one coming to stay at the hotel.

“Glasgow has to be leading the way, which it has done very well in the past, and we’re hoping that a bounce back after Covid will continue and keep everyone afloat.

“I always say to the team that we’re only just scratching the surface and that the wider development of George Square itself will hopefully bring even more businesses to the area.”

The Herald: Pictured: Plans for how George Square could lookPictured: Plans for how George Square could look (Image: Glasgow City Council)

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Last October, a planning application submitted by Glasgow City Council revealed ambitious plans to transform George Square, with a proposed water feature; a raised lawn platform; bespoke sheltered seating and more.

One month later, it was reported that the Met Tower, a former City of Glasgow College building overlooking the square is set to reopen in 2025 after lying vacant for over a decade.

Infamous for the bright pink “People Make Glasgow” graphics wrap installed ahead of the Commonwealth Games in 2014, the site was acquired by Bruntwood SciTech from property developer Osborne+Co for £16.2m in 2022 with plans now approved to turn it into a “new technology and digital hub.”

The Herald: Pictured: The planned development from Bruntwood SciTechPictured: The planned development from Bruntwood SciTech (Image: Bruntwood SciTech)

A Glasgow City Council spokesperson said: “The success of these businesses in and close to George Square is something we should celebrate and reflects the rise in festive footfall we recorded in the city centre in comparison to the same period in 2022 and indeed in the last pre-pandemic period in December 2019, pointing to the ongoing recovery of the most significant economic area in Scotland.

“Developers have shown great confidence in this area, the heart of the city centre, through investment in projects such as Love Loan, and others, such as the Met Tower, are in the pipeline to continue this trend.

“Improvements to George Square and the public realm in the streets around it over the next few years will make the area even more attractive to everyone who lives, works, visits and invests there.”