Things I Have Learned About Opening a Bar – Iain Yanda McPherson

‘Things I Have Learned’ is a series of short interview articles in which the same set of questions are put to members of the bar industry who have launched their own business, changed career path, or done something interesting. The aim of the series is to provide guidance and inspiration to bartenders who might like to launch a new project of their own. 

BarLifeUK Learning - Things I Have Learned About Opening a Bar - Iain Yanda McPhersonWho are you?
I am Iain Yanda McPherson, co-owner of Hoot The Redeemer and Panda & Sons, ice cream maestro (AKA Senor Scoop), and a real living wage activist.

What are you doing now?
Currently putting the finishing touches to ‘Nauticus’ with Kyle Jamieson, which will be our bar that champions Scottish liquor and produce in Edinburgh. Then off to LA to open Simone/Duello with award winning chef Jessica Largey in September.

Expectation Vs Reality – Have things turned out the way you though they would?
My expectation and visions of acquiring a vintage ice cream van was a one of a touch of class, peacocking and streets that would be paved with gold. How I was very wrong. PLEASE don’t buy an old van, they break, and then break some more while you are on your knees begging for forgiveness. I spent more on fixing it then what I paid for it. All the money I made went back into fixing the van. It looked lovely but my god that was a long summer, Guinness never looked so bright during these dark times. Lastly everyone has old vehicles to sell their goods from. What I say is buy a new vehicle, you’ll actually stand out now… and have warranty on parts!

Hard Yards – What has been the most difficult challenge to overcome?
Nauticus is a brain child of Kyle Jamieson and myself. We wanted to create a bar that was Leith inspired in terms of its rich history but also championing Scottish products. Could we make a normal functioning bar that only served Scottish products? The answer is nearly, but we could’ve got even closer if global warming just hurried up and gave us some damn vineyards. We basically ran off a three tiered selection and elimination process: 1. Is it made in Scotland or owned by a Scottish company? Yes/No 2. Does it have Scottish heritage? Yes/No – 3. What tequila, mezcal or cognac shall we stock? But only 1 of each category and under the counter.

Pleasant Surprise – Describe something you have enjoyed during your adventures
Learning how to mentor Kyle Jamieson into bar ownership and collaborate with on this new project. Also seeing how much great stuff Scotland produces is outstanding. I learnt a lot from it, and the further we went with the concept the harder it was.

Need to Know – Describe a vital lesson you have learned
Your product, bar, or anything you are doing will never be released or opened when you intend it to, be prepared for that. You will be outside your comfort zone and that is not a nice feeling but rest assured it means you are pushing yourself, so keep going and remind yourself why you are doing it. It will all be ok in the end if you really want it… so please don’t start if you just think it sounds pretty cool.

Change is Good – What do you think the industry should be doing differently?
Going back to the real living wage. Pay in our industry is shocking. You have people saying “competitive pay” when they mean minimum wage, and on the other hand people on decent salaries that are made to then work 70-80 hours a week, this usually equates too them being below the living wage. That is profiteering from not paying your staff right. That needs to change.