The Playhouse: First-look inside new Edinburgh bar and restaurant

The theatre has taken back this part of the building

Finding a pre-theatre spot in the Scottish capital just got a bit easier as, this summer, the Edinburgh Playhouse will be opening a new eating and drinking venue, Little Picardy.

This all-day venue is in the location – once occupied by the turquoise-fronted bar, Cafe Habana, and which has also variously operated as a dressmaker and electrical goods shop – that was part of the original design of the building.

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Owners of The Playhouse, ATG Entertainment, bought the venue in the autumn of 2023, following the retirement of Cafe Habana’s owner, Lorraine Rourke, who ran the bar for 23 years.

Edinburgh Playhouse exteriorEdinburgh Playhouse exterior
Edinburgh Playhouse exterior

This side of the property, which was opened as Scotland’s second biggest cinema in 1929 before becoming a theatre in 1980, echoes the Art Deco-esque symmetry of the box office on the right of the main entrance. The facade was inspired by the New York’s Roxy Cinema, which was the largest cinema in the world at the time of its construction in 1927.

The interior of Little Picardy, which will be spread across three levels, including a mezzanine and lower level toilets, will also have a Twenties meets French bistro vibe, with dark wood on the bar and a sophisticated neutral palette. There are entrances into the restaurant from the theatre lobby, the street and the stairwell that leads guests to the stalls, with plenty of space outside for al-fresco pavement seating.

Although they are yet to appoint a chef for the new project, the venue is planning to serve a day menu that will include locally-roasted barista coffee, salads, sandwiches, small plates, cakes and snacks to suit a matinee crowd.

In the evening, there will be after-work drinks, including cocktails, international beers and wines, and light food options.

Little Picardy artist's impressionLittle Picardy artist's impression
Little Picardy artist's impression

They haven’t ruled out having theatrically-themed drinks, but they want Little Picardy to have its own identity and not necessarily to be purely for theatre-goers. That doesn’t mean that we can’t hope for a Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat (starring Donny Osmond) style libation.

The space is undercover, as, though an exact opening date is yet to be announced, they’re aiming for an opening date to coincide with the start of the Edinburgh Festival, when the likes of comedians Jimmy Carr and Fern Brady and author Adam Kay will be appearing at the theatre.

The new restaurant’s name is derived from the 18th century, when weavers from the Picardy region of Northern France settled in the area and built a commune of 13 houses on what is now Picardy Place. They named this area Picardy Village, which later became known as Little Picardy. It disappeared in the 18th century, when Queen Street was extended so it would link with the top of Leith Walk.

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As Gordon Millar, Edinburgh Playhouse theatre director says: “We are delighted to be opening Little Picardy and, in turn, welcoming in more of our local community, building upon what we bring to our city, and establishing a brand-new venue for people to make even more memories in.”

Edinburgh Playhouse, 18-22 Greenside Place, Edinburgh, for more information, see

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