Earlier this month Alasdair Peoples interviewed Byron Holland, owner of The Crafters Barn.
Beer. It's one of the best drinks around. And thankfully Edinburgh has no shortage of places where you can purchase a cold pint of it. Beer aficionados flock to the city every year, and a good many of them live here too.
This year the town is abuzz about a new kid on the block, The Crafter's Barn on North Bank Street. It is owned and run by entrepreneur Byron Holland and his partner Amber, and when Byron isn't working the floor he is busy staking The Barn's claim as the new place to go for a bite to eat and a pint. And not just any pint - a Belgian pint.
The location of The Crafters Barn is pretty special too. Right on the crest of The Mound, it looks out over Edinburgh's New Town whilst simultaneously being at the gateway into the Old Town. At the beginning of our interview Byron said he was interested in bringing locals back to this part of Edinburgh - which is traditionally seen as the tourist's part of town. An ambitious plan. I was taken by his enthusiasm.
So, Byron - there are hundreds of pubs in Edinburgh, what separates yours from your competitors?
The idea behind The Crafters Barn was to take the combination of quality Belgian beer and gourmet food and bring these things together in a popular tourist location. Where better than the heart of Edinburgh? Everything about our brand image revolves around quality craft beer - everything is beer influenced and we have been meticulous in our application of this idea. The main thing is obviously the beer. We serve over 50 different types of bottled beer; we have 6 lines, including Hoegarden and Duvel and two rotating taps which will host a varied selection of local beers. We also do beer infused cocktails and there are a variety of beer infused dishes on our menu.
Can you tell me a bit more about the cocktails and food on offer?
Our beer infused cocktails contain some great things like Leffe Beer Marmalade and Belle Vue Kriek Jam. We had a professional mixologist in to help us with the menu and we can guarantee you will not have tried anything like this before. In terms of food, gourmet pizzas are our house speciality. When we were preparing to open I spent a week in Naples learning how to make pizzas with the best in the business. Another thing that we do a bit differently are our steaks, which come served on hot lava stones. On Mussel Mondays we serve Belgian mussel pots in a variety of different sauces.
How did the idea for The Crafters Barn take off?
Myself and Amber had been working on luxury motor yachts. On one journey we arrived in a little place in the US Virgin islands where we stumbled across a place serving Belgian beer and pizza. We were amazed at the quality of the fare and the popularity of the venue, so much so that we became determined to start a similar business of our own. After five years we returned to the UK and started the ball rolling from there.
You couldn't hope for a better location, how did you decide on the décor?
In the spirit of the craft beer revolution that is taking place at the moment we went for an industrial look with lots of reclaimed wood and exposed brickwork. French café chairs, wooden light fixtures and factory style bar stools all add to the look. We wanted the design of the room to reflect the urban yet homely atmosphere we are trying to create.
What was the biggest obstacle to getting your business of the ground?
With a new business, especially in a place like Edinburgh's city centre nobody wants to take you on immediately without putting you through your paces. Because of this it took 9 months to get the premises arrangements all cleared up. Getting leases arranged was a steep learning curve and a process of learning on the go. In the end our current landlord loved our business-plan and with local solicitors Blair Cadell helping out with the legal work we got everything in place.
What can we expect in the future from the Crafters Barn?
You can expect quality, variety, excellent service and a great location. We have a number of weekday deals from 5pm onwards that people should definitely take advantage of too. On Mondays we have all you can eat mussels from for £12.95, on Tuesdays when you buy any pizza (from £8) you get another one half price and don't miss Steakstone Wednesdays where any buffalo steak cooked on a hot lavastone with skinny fries will cost you just £14.95.
The Crafters Barn is a Belgian beer infused Brasserie serving Belgian & Scottish craft beers.
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