Glasgow’s Mharsanta and Van Winkle restaurants build back better

Guest blog from Derek, Chris and Sophie at Mharsanta and Van Winkle.

Owners of Glasgow’s Mharsanta and Van Winkle restaurants give Glasgow Convention Bureau their insights on how they plan to ‘build back better’ as a business and take positive steps to be more sustainable, while working with city partners to provide unique experiences for delegates.

A time for change

We are very aware of the importance of sustainability and the impact our business will have on future generations.

The year of COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, has brought this into sharp focus for us, as the event takes place in the city and two of our venues, Mharsanta and Van Winkle, are Glasgow businesses.

It is time for us to be forward thinking and do our bit to help Glasgow and Scotland thrive.

Local produce and sustainability plans

Our Ethos and USP has always been to use locally sourced and produced food and drink within our venues, and we already have a policy in place to buy Scottish and local produce where possible.

Scotland has a great natural larder, and these local suppliers are what we base our menus on, including Macsweens Haggis, The Fish People, Rodgers the Butchers, Braehead foods, Graham’s Dairy, Tennent’s and Innis & Gunn.

Via Zero Waste Scotland we are currently undergoing an energy audit across our venues with Resource Efficiency Scotland and GSM associates. Internally, we already use smart meters and energy efficient lighting within the buildings. We optimise our refrigeration systems within our kitchen and bar areas and encourage our staff to follow simple measures that save on energy, for example ensuring all non-essential lighting is switched off at night and ways in which we can improve on our heating and cooling costs.

Mharsanta for conferences

Some of the most popular dishes at our Merchant City restaurant, Mharsanta, are our Macsween haggis scotch egg, freshly landed Peterhead fish and chips, Mharsanta steak and sausage pie, Orkney crab cakes, Cullen skink, Shetland island mussels and the classic Scottish dessert, cranachan.

We offer several dinner packages suited to our conference delegates, such as welcome and farewell Scottish dinners and unique dining experiences working in collaboration with other local visitor attractions.

One collaboration is the Tennent’s Scottish Beer & Food Pairing evening. We are also a stop off point for the City Sightseeing Glasgow tour with combined ticketing options available.

We also partner with walking tours, including the Trad Trail walking tour, dinner and live Scottish traditional music with Glasgow Music City Tours, the Once Upon a Whisky walking whisky tour and Eat, Walk, Glasgow for their walking food tour.

We are excited to have a new meeting space within our private dining room, ‘The Hideout’ which is ideal for hybrid events, as an affordable alternative to larger conferences. It is an all-new multimedia digital conferencing facility - with an 85-inch state of the art ultra-HD screen with interactive facilities, full camera, sound and 5G connectivity. When using the Hideout for these meetings, the room can easily hold up to 25 delegates.

Van Winkle for conferences

Glasgow is a UNESCO City of Music and Van Winkle is located opposite one of the city’s most iconic music venues, ‘The Barrowland Ballroom’.

Van Winkle is an ideal venue for delegates looking for an outdoor dining option. It is the perfect place to host a BBQ in our hidden gem, the Jack Daniels Tennessee Fire Garden.  Hosting up to around 50 guests, you can have exclusive use of our beer garden (fully covered if required), outdoor bar and bespoke chef for the evening.

Serving a variety of wee plates, BBQ pit food (smoked in-house over bourbon wood chip before being finished on the grill) and homemade burgers and sandwiches, there’s something to suit everyone at Van Winkle.

Building a sustainable community

Our team are at the heart of our plans for the future. We actively promote staff learning and development, with many members of the team currently taking on courses to further develop their careers. 

One of our next steps will be to look at the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, identifying two or three of the goals which resonate with our business and influence decisions made. This will also be a great way to engage with our team on the topic of sustainability.

There are so many positives to looking at sustainability, including cost savings, meeting the needs of increasingly environmentally-aware customers and staff, and enhancing the reputation of our business.

We would encourage all businesses to take a more sustainable approach with their policies, and there has never been a better time to do so.

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