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“I honestly think our reputation is just as much luck as it is good judgement. We were in the right place at the right time.”

Frequently described as a favourite on Glasgow’s food scene is Five March, a cosy little restaurant tucked away on Elderslie Street in the West End. Now five years in operation the business has built a strong reputation, commendable for their quality of food, menu creativity, attentive service and the general dining experience they offer. 

We spoke to the owner and founder of Five March, Joanna Nethery, on what it’s like to run one of the city’s most beloved restaurants and putting ideas into fruition:

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What I've learned about hospitality in Glasgow

“We are a wee restaurant. Generally it’s kind of small plates and sharing which I think probably the entire world is now. Me and my old business partner sat down and talked about if four people were going to go for dinner how do you cater for everyone without having to write a cheque longer than my arm. Because if you’ve got four people, you’ve got one who’s probably vegetarian or vegan, one who might be celiac, you’ve got one who’s secretly skint and can’t afford to go out for dinner. How do you cater for everybody?

“So, we wrote a menu making sure every kind of subsection of dietary requirement is catered to quite significantly within the menu so everyone can come in and spend a lot if they would like to, that’s always great, but they can always come in and just have a dish and just enjoy the experience of being here with your friends which we think is quite important. 

“We try and work with as many local producers as we can, we try and keep things coming from as close to here as possible. That extends to our wine list as well, we try not to look to any new world wine, it’s our carbon footprint. There’s usually something you can do with waste products, whether it’s a stalk, there’s some way to use it so we’re just really trying to make sure we don’t throw things out. Which is good for us as well because you pay for less waste. It’s funny because when you really implement greener practices it actually saves you money as well, it’s like a double bonus on the whole thing. 

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“Seasonality, the menu changes quite a lot. It is interesting right now because you really just can’t guarantee anything. Like last summer when the whole of Europe was either droughts or totally soaking so the products coming in that you could normally rely on, instead they were half the size and twice the price. You’re kept on your toes at the moment I think it’s fair to say. 

“I honestly think our reputation is just as much luck as it is good judgement. We were in the right place at the right time. Our proximity to Finnieston being just outside of it I think was incredibly advantageous when we first opened. Having said that there’s not really any passing trade here so it’s actually a unit you really have to try and keep a destination which sometimes on a really cold, rubbish Tuesday it’s hard to coax people up here. 

“We’re just happy that we’re still here. It’s incredible to have the reputation that we have, we’re still very nervous about it. It comes down to the staff more than anything else in the world. We’ve been really fortunate with chefs who have come through the doors, the front of house guys. We really are a wee team which is quite nice.

"It’s pride, everyone wants to do well, no chef wants to put out bad food. In here we do try and give them quite a lot of freedom and I think that’s why we get good chefs through the door, they get to try new things. It’s great for me because I get to try things all the time and it’s great for them because chefs are creative people they want to be working on something or trying to redefine something. They’ve got as much ego as the rest of us. If you give them a situation that they’re allowed to play in a little bit you just end up with better results.”

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