Scotland’s best independent bar: Smoking Goat boss used lockdown measures to turn the venue into the best in the country

An Ayrshire bar boss has told how he used Covid lockdowns as inspiration to become the best in the business.

David Storrie bought his new business just three months before the world was thrown into chaos with the first virus outbreak.

And much of his next two years was spent desperately trying to put his long-held plans into action.

Now it’s riding the crest of a wave after The Smoking Goat, the cozy venue with a big reputation in Ayr’s Academy Street, was crowned Scotland’s best independent bar.

Another packed house at The Goat

David, 38, revealed: “Our biggest selling point is that we bring a Glasgow and Edinburgh vibe to Ayr and I think that played a big part in the price tag.

“It’s a huge honor and blew us away to win – thousands of venues across Scotland are competing and even making the final list of finalists was a feat in itself.

“The past two years have been tough for obvious reasons…so getting this recognition is worth it.”

David bought The Goat in December 2019 before the onslaught of Covid made him fear the worst.

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He said: “I had made a business decision and having made it with my own hands was so frustrating.

“At times during the shutdowns, it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“But in a weird way, I used it as a positive element and tried to transform the place as much as possible.

“We built a beer garden and added so many other touches to the business that we were ready to come back bigger and better when we reopened.”

The Goat, which employs just under 20 people, is now one of the hippest venues south of town and even Tuesday night quizzes are standing room only.

Victory at the Scottish Entertainment Awards – where they were also nominated for Best Burger and Best Pub – is now the icing on the cake.

David built his own beer garden
David built his own beer garden

David added: “We try to offer something for everyone, whether it’s quiz nights, our live sports, acoustic nights or DJ sessions.

“And the biggest compliment we get is when people come from far and wide to come and visit us because of the reputation we’re earning now.

“The staff have been amazing and that’s for them. We’ve all worked so hard to get here and now we want to enjoy this moment.”

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