Forget the Doo’cot – now it’s the Naebody’s Inn!

Posted on 03/10/2014 by

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doocot

The once-popular Doo’cot Roadhouse in Drylaw closed last month following a dispute between the licensee and the pub’s owners, Yorkshire-based Samuel Smith’s Breweries. Ian Byars handed in his licence just a week after his sister Lesley Gilmore resigned as manager at the Cramond Inn – Samuel Smith’s only other Edinburgh pub.

The brewers have refused to comment on the couple’s claims that they are owed thousands, and in the meantime The Doo’cot’s future remains uncertain.

Samuel Smith’s is a real old-fashioned traditional brewery, established in 1758. The company still don’t have email, but they have moved with the times a bit and have a website with some nice pictures of their shire horses on it. It’s still quite hard to contact them, though, even to get telephone calls returned – but it’s thought that their pubs will reopen when new licensees have been found.

horseInverleith councillor Iain Whyte said: “The Doo’cot is a popular pub and it’s got a large family area. Although there are some other pubs, most of them are quite a walk away so hopefully it will be back in use soon. It is not that long since it was heavily refurbished and I imagine it will be attractive for some one to run.”

The Doo’cot is indeed an attractive pub, with very competitive drinks prices, but it’s struggled to attract customers almost since it reopened after refurbishment. Social habits have changed, of course, but there’s always been the feeling too hat it’s a good pub but in the wrong location, or it’s an ideal place for a pub but not that kind of pub. The no TVs, no jukebox policy was always questionable, too – good old fashioned conversation isn’t enough for some folk now. Punters want to be entertained and if one pub won’t do it, another one will. Money is tight and customers vote with their feet- and their wallets.

By uncanny coincidence, the day the Doo’cot closed was almost thirteen years to the day since the Tadcaster brewery took over the Doo’cot – once Scottish & Newcastle’s busiest pub in the east of Scotland.

Samuel Smith’s always stock their bars exclusively with their own products, and despite a petition from Doo’cot regulars the new owners steadfastly refused to stock the popular McEwan’s ‘heavy’ as a guest beer. The result? A boycott, and scenes reminiscent of Braveheart as battling Saltire-clad pensioner Alex Kane chained himself to the front door in protest as draymen attempted to deliver Smith’s beers. He may even have said: “They can take our pub, but they’ll never take oor heavy!” but I may be mistaken

The protest ended peacefully and the pub opened, but despite major investment and complete refurbishment the customers never returned in great numbers. Many Doo’cot regulars moved on to other pubs, others stayed at home where they can smoke and drink much as they like – and yet more are now drinking their pints of heavy in that great saloon bar in the sky.

I hope the Doo’cot reopens soon – if it doesn’t, it will quickly become a target for vandals. But those days of jam-packed community pubs are well and truly over. Same again?

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