Edinburgh restaurateur '˜saddened' by loss of popular bistro

An EDINBURGH restaurateur who has been forced to sell off his popular bistro has warned of a coming '˜bloodbath' in the Capital catering industry.

David Ramsden sold The Dogs on Hanover street two months ago to brothers Finbarr and Daniel McNally after struggling to stay afloat in the face of stiff competition.

He has been left “very saddened” by the loss of the restaurant that served “just really good straightforward food.”

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He said: “It’s not the way I hoped to end a career being forced through circumstances to sell something that as far as I knew was a lovely little shop.”

David Ramsden of The Dogs. Picture: Greg MacveanDavid Ramsden of The Dogs. Picture: Greg Macvean
David Ramsden of The Dogs. Picture: Greg Macvean

Changing tastes of customers and the sheer volume of new eateries opening in the Capital have played a part in the demise of The Dogs.

Mr Ramsden said: “The market place has changed beyond all recognition. You don’t have to look very far to find out the extent of it.

“Over this year and into next, there will be a bloodbath. [I’m hearing it] from other owners, estate agencies and the banks and there are more places scheduled to open ... they’re coming out of the woodwork like mould.”

Mr Ramsden, who has been in the business for 40 years, launched the original Dogs at its current location in 2007.

His previous ventures, Amore Dogs, the Underdogs and Seadogs, all closed a number of years ago. He also previously owned the highly-rated Morrison Street eatery Rogue, on Lothian Road, before the restaurant closed its doors in late 2004.

He still runs wine bar The Fat Pony Wine Bar on Bread Street but worries that it will go the same way as The Dogs.

He said: “I tried to employ a slightly different model with The Fat Pony as a wine bar.

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“Every single business I have opened in the last 40 years has worked from day one so it was a really hard lesson to realise the Pony wasn’t going to follow that rule.”

The Dogs will serve its last meal this Saturday night before the McNally brothers, who own The Kilted Pig pub on Colinton Road and The Scotsman Lounge at the top of Cockburn Street, put their own stamp on it which will include a major facelift.

The 13 existing staff members will be kept on.

The Dogs had to be sold “because it wasn’t making any money”, said Mr Ramsden. “I’m not going to apportion any blame.

“It was a model I really believed would have prevailed.”

But he admits that the problem could, in part, be down to the council granting licences to big chains and new developments, and the increase of ‘pop-up’ restaurants in the city.

He said: “There is definitely a wider issue and that is so many of the independents are changing hands so quickly that the value of property has decreased. [But] if we were doing something that people wanted we’d be in the same position as the restaurants that do well despite the influx so somewhere, somehow I got it wrong and that’s a hard pill to swallow.”