Fresh start for Jock’s lodge in ‘blues fusion’ makeover

Jock's Lodge will be revamped. Picture; contributed
Jock's Lodge will be revamped. Picture; contributed
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At the time of its closure, it was described as being “like the Wild West”.

But now, one of Edinburgh’s most notorious bars is to be given a unique facelift which will see it resemble a very different part of the United States.

Jock’s Lodge, at the top of Smokey Brae, is set to reopen as The Barrelhouse Bar, claiming it will be the city’s first “blues fusion” bar, after a £280,000 refurbishment project ends next month.

The troubled pub has been shut since 2011 after drug dealer James Carlin was shot on the premises, but will be given a new lease of life with a cajun-inspired menu and live music every night, according to developers Star Pubs & Bars.

The project is being fronted by Amanda Caygill, owner of The Espy in Portobello and 52 Canoes in the city centre, who says the pub’s reputation did nothing to faze her.

“Jocks Lodge is the perfect location – it’s a great community with a need for a restaurant and bar for locals, but it’s also easily accessible for customers from other parts of the city,” she said.

“Obviously I’d read up on the history of the bar and the area in general and I have friends in the police who were telling me not to touch it. But I’m well aware of what happened here in the past and I think that this area is changing so I think this can be a big part of that.”

The new interior will benefit from a “relaxed, New Orleans-style setting, with booth seating and live music”, according to Amanda, 40.

And she believes its unique selling point will be enough to attract customers to the bar, despite its location outside the city centre.

“I’ve been to New Orleans a few times and I absolutely loved the decor and the atmosphere created by the bar culture there,” she said.

“I don’t want to describe it as a grungy aesthetic, because that’s a totally different culture. But it’s that kind of stripped back design, really taking the place in a new direction.

“This will completely unique to Edinburgh. Much like The Espy, this will be a destination pub. People won’t just start their night there, they’ll be there for the whole evening.”

Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “Edinburgh city centre pubs and bars have had significant investment in recent years.

“Residents in more outer lying areas now want to enjoy similar quality and great food, coffee and entertainment on their doorsteps throughout the day without needing to travel.

“It’s great that such an experienced Edinburgh operator wants to join us in reviving the Jock’s Lodge’s fortunes.

“Amanda is known for her imaginative and creative approach as well as outstanding food and service and I’ve every confidence they’ll create another distinctive and popular venue for Edinburgh.”