THE £280,000 refurbishment transformed what had been one of Edinburgh’s most notorious pubs into the city’s first “blues fusion bar”.
Amanda Caygill, licensee at the Barrelhouse Bar and Diner, which has replaced the former Jock’s Lodge pub, promised a relaxed, New Orleans-style setting, with booth seating, live music and quality food.
And she says it has been a big success since it opened at the end of last year – but not everyone is so impressed with the new venue.
A leaflet delivered to thousands of nearby homes criticises the new bar for making this corner of the Capital look like America’s Deep South.
In the flyer, which also highlights other local issues in the area, Conservative council candidate John McLellan says: “Jock’s Lodge is not the Mississippi Delta and to throw up what looks like a shanty hut is a missed opportunity to bring a real improvement to the area. This is one shack I don’t love.”
The former Evening News editor is standing in the Craigentinny/Duddingston ward in May’s local elections.
He said: “It’s the look of the place from the outside – I have no problem with what goes on inside. I like blues as much as anyone – I used to play in a blues band when I was a student.
“It just looks like a shed outside and does nothing to improve the area. It just looks run-down.
“It’s been a problem corner for a while and I can understand the gimmick and the attempt at a marketing wheeze, but it does nothing to improve the area.”
He said he was putting out 3000 leaflets in a bid to win over voters.
But Ms Caygill defended the appearance of her bar, said it was doing good business and noted she had not had any complaints about its look.
“I can’t keep everyone happy,” she said. “I also remember being told if you can’t say something nice you should keep quiet.
“I’m pretty blunt myself – that’s why it’s designed the way it is.”
She said the bar and diner was “crazy busy”, adding: “We’ve got some fantastic new locals who love it. I couldn’t be happier with the demographic coming in – young, old; kids, families; the whole bit.”
She said there had been no adverse comments on the design or appearance of the place.
“We had a few teething problems – no phone number to start with – but these things happen,” she said.
And she said she was “not worried at all” about criticism of what she described as the “stripped back” design.
The Jock’s Lodge pub had been shut since 2011 after drug dealer James Carlin was shot on the premises.
But Ms Caygill, who owns The Espy in Portobello and 52 Canoes at the West End, took over the property despite its past, arguing that the new bar could be part of the change going on in the area and its new style would attract customers from other parts of the city.