Designated Driver

Inside Rab Ha’s

By Liam Coleman

- Last updated on GMT

Typical Glasgow pub Rab Ha's
Typical Glasgow pub Rab Ha's
Rab Ha’s is named after a 19th-century lover of great food and drink. Manager Karen Pringle talks about how the site now aims to deliver great food and drink for the 21st century

The pub

The site is a hotel, bar and restaurant owned by Greene King. It is quite a small hotel with only four rooms, but it is a Glasgow institution because of its really good reputation for food, drink and hospitality in general.

Rab Ha’s is named after a gentleman called Robert Hall, who in the 19th century was known as the ‘Glasgow glutton’, so naturally he liked a lot of good food, good drink and a good time. We exist to encompass that - people come here for enjoyment and really good Scottish hospitality.

The location

We are in the merchant city district of Glasgow, which is round the corner from the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art and the city chambers. A lot happens around this area and it is a beautiful area to walk around.

The customers

We get tourists from all over the world that drink, eat and stay at the hotel because we are known for great Scottish hospitality. Yet we are also a local for the town centre so we get a lot of people that work and live in the merchant city come and drink here. It all adds up to a really friendly place.

The manager

My parents had independent freehouses, which they sold to breweries eight years ago when they retired and I have been in the licensing trade for more than 20 years. When my parents got my first pub, my sister and I worked with them to make it a family business. That is probably why I like to bring a personal touch to what we do.

I then started working independently and worked all over the place when doing my hospitality degree, including in the Hamptons in New York state.

After my degree I knew I wanted to stay doing work front of house, instead of going into a different part of the trade, like product branding, because I enjoy working with the general public and welcoming people in.

I have since been the general manager here for just over two years.

The team

We have quite a diverse selection of people that work here. We’ve got quite a few students and a fair few people that have been in the licensed trade for many years. It is quite a small closely-knit team, which I am delighted to be the head of and be the person that drives the site forward.

The offer

One of the things we need to think about with our Christmas offer is that we are a hotel and, therefore, have a lot of parties here where people may not be drinking alcohol.

Our dedication to a non-alcoholic offer came when the legal level of alcohol for driving was reduced in December 2014. That made us want to look at different options for when people were coming in and didn’t want to be served alcohol.

The designated driver scheme is a great way of offering hospitality for everybody who comes here, regardless of whether they were drinking or not. I don’t know how many places do the scheme, but when we tell customers about it, the designated driver feels less like the odd one out. People really do appreciate it and we definitely do get more custom because of it.

This will be the second year that we have done the designated driver scheme and we absolutely saw a boost in trade off the back of it. It created a really positive buzz, as well, which we were really delighted about.

Related topics: Soft & Hot Drinks, Health & safety

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