The party’s over: Grassmarket businesses to tackle stag and hen night reputation and attract more genteel clientele

Grassmarket businesses aiming to get rid of stag and hen parties. Picture: Pamela Grigg
Grassmarket businesses aiming to get rid of stag and hen parties. Picture: Pamela Grigg
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AS the top nightlife destination for the mankini-wearing man, it is synonymous with wild behaviour and excessive drinking.

But businesses in the Grassmarket hope to drive away its famed stag and hen parties in favour of attracting families and street events to the area.

Weekend influxes of revellers have led to new calls to transform the area to cater for a more refined kind of customer.

Bar and shop owners will today begin voting on the creation of a Business Improvement District (BID) for the Greater Grassmarket area, modelled on Essential Edinburgh, which manages and promotes the city centre.

And one of the top priorities for the new group is said to be tackling the area’s image – with many pubs already supporting the idea.

While there are no firm proposals, Fawns Reid, chair of the Greater Grassmarket BID and owner of the Fabhatrix store, said: “Stag and hen parties has come up frequently and the theory is if we make it a more pleasant place to spend time then these groups might not be as drawn to the area.

“The majority of the pubs already won’t let fancy dress in because they don’t target that market, they want families who will sit down and enjoy a meal.”

Chris Saunders, 32, deputy manager at the Beehive Inn, said his pub had actually moved away from the stag and hen market and towards food and entertainment, with others in the area doing the same.

He said: “We let groups of guys in if they are well behaved, but we don’t let in the guys in mankinis or anything. We do a lot of food and we don’t want to put people off.”

Craig Thomas, general manager at The Black Bull, however, said it was step too far. “We don’t discourage stag and hen parties, but we just focus on managing it and making sure that everyone has a good time.

“I do not think that it’s really about discouraging stag and hen parties, it’s more about educating the traders.”

Under the Greater Grassmarket BID scheme each trader would pay between £300 and £3000, depending on the size of the premises, and cash would be spent on improving the area. An independent board would raise a five-year budget of £620,000 from the contributions of 247 traders, along with public grants.

The results will not be in until early November, but those behind the project said along with rowdy revellers, changes to trade waste collections and street cleaning were among the main concerns.

Other key targets include attracting street events and outdoor art installations to attract families and tourists.

In the city centre Essential Edinburgh already employs four “Essentials” officers who act as extra street cleaners and bought a £6000 “gum buster” to blitz the pavements.

They are also linked to a range of security and CCTV staff by radio.