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Thursday, 25 July 2013

LUAC - Little Urban Achievers' Club

LUAC - Little Urban Achievers' Club - 508 Great Western Road, Glasgow G11 8EL

Unlikely as it sounds I don’t often find myself as the first ever customer in a new bar. Launches don’t count and, anyway, I can’t recall any recent invites to such – I still go, mind – but to be the first real punter is a privilege.

And it’s one I enjoyed today. 12.03pm precisely. I know the exact time because the staff checked it with each other before pulling the pump. LUAC (Little Urban Achievers’ Club) has been threatening to open for a while now. The acronym’s OK but please tell me the full name is ironic.

It replaces The Wise Monkey and, previously, Hubbards. Both were very unsatisfying joints the latter especially poor, its refurb from Hubbards can only be described, charitably, as half-hearted.

This incarnation is a real change. You can see the work they’ve done – a decent paint job outside, freshly distressed walls, new lighting, and a revamped counter area are some of the obvious things. But the long wooden tables and the condiment dispensers reminded me of G1 Group’s Ketchup so I enquired if the behemoth had acquired another outlet. It seemed even more likely as nightclub Viper is upstairs.

“No” said a friendly member of staff who set me right by revealing that the people who own Lebowski’s and it’s excellent sister The Finnieston are behind LUAC. The guy also told me about the Trade Launch last night. My grin set hard in my face, frozen – you could say.

“Oh, how did it go?” I replied, hoping the insincerity of my expression wasn’t too obvious.
“Great, there must have been 150 here.”
“Nice one!” I congratulated.

As he left I consoled myself with the realisation I was the first real drinker here in the first real day of trading. And I added a half pint (times are hard) of Schiehallion to my earlier Heverlee. This gives you an indication of the decent range of beers and craft beer is intended to be one of the main attractions in here along with decent food, including gourmet hot dogs – a dripping sandwich may well be the next thing to get the gourmet treatment, my epicurean friends tell me.

If The Finnieston is anything to go by the food will indeed be good but talking of that other part of the West End this is quite a departure for the Lebowski’s team. To begin, leaving aside their Edinburgh venture, this will be their first attempt outside of their home ground. And this place is big, too big.

Both Hubbards and the Wise Monkey laboured to maintain the atmosphere in this substantial space, especially on long, quiet winter nights. LUAC has compartmentalised the space so this may help to contain and preserve a decent ambience no matter the time of day or night.

They also have to decide whether to go for the pre-club pound or the quality route of knowledgeable service and premium drinks. Maybe they can do both. Here’s hoping I’m not the last drinker in here as well as the first.