The Scottish Engineer, Edinburgh

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A model steam train running around the bar isn’t something you expect to witness in your local pub, but it’s the sight that greets customers walking into the newly-refurbished Scottish Engineer in Edinburgh.

The pub has just undergone a six-figure refurbishment and is now run by Andrena Smith-Bowes. This is her sixth pub with Greene King Partners, with the other five going from strength to strength and enjoying great acclaim from the Scottish hospitality industry.    

“When we opened the Scottish Engineer it was so encouraging to see customers from my other venues coming here to support us in this one,” Andrena says, a few days after the pub’s reopening on 25 March.

And it’s quite the change for customers, with the pub that previously went by the name of the Telford Arms now themed around the famous engineers that Scotland has given the world.

“We’ve made it into 172 seats inside and 132 seats outside and have refurbished the entire venue,” says Andrena. “It’s absolutely perfect timing for summer and we’ve been very busy since opening. We took a pub that wasn’t trading too well and decided to turn it into a tribute to all the great engineers of Scotland, such as Alexander Graham Bell and John Logie Baird. We designed quite a lot ourselves and have even got a train running around the bar in the Scottish Engineer colours.”

Four out of Andrena’s other five sites with Pub Partners are in and around Edinburgh, with The Elizabethan across the Forth Bridge in Dunfermline. She recently took on the Cameo in Leith and reopened it as The Barologist after another six-figure joint investment with Pub Partners, and her company Ecosse Inns also runs The Scottie, The Terrace, and The Clermiston Inn.

Andrena believes regular investment is key for pubs’ success, something with which Greene King has offered regular support since she first became a Greene King partner in 2015.

“You’ve got to invest regularly in the buildings. We’re doing some work at The Scottie in July and it will be our third investment there alone. Whenever there’s a discussion over a CAPEX investment, we sit down and work out what we’re willing to spend and what Greene King is willing to spend. It’s a partnership and it’s about both parties getting the best results at the end of the day. We can only be as good as the support we receive from the partnership and we must be doing something right because this is pub number six.”

One of the biggest changes at the Scottish Engineer was overhauling the outside area to create a fantastic outside space, which had previously been underused.

“The pub was in need of real investment,” Andrena recalls. “We’ve completely re-landscaped the outside, put in raised decking, lights and a feature water wheel with steam that comes out. It’s all really beautiful, although I say it myself.”

There are big plans for summer, with the pub now able to serve nearly double the number of customers when the garden is busy and Andrena envisaging a pop-up outside bar and a barbecue to draw customers along.

“We don’t get many bonnie days in Scotland, but in the summer when we do get one it’s like two businesses in one. That’s my vision,” she says

A further sign of the love and effort put into making the Scottish Engineer a success comes from the number of staff now working at the pub. Previously it was six, now there are 36 team members and Andrena employs a total of 132 people across all her six sites.

“It feels amazing to see my business growing and to me it’s all about the people. It’s about the staff we employ and the development within the team and also the customers.

“We’re so thrilled they’re joining us in paying tribute to the great engineers of Scotland by turning this pub into a beautiful, comfortable, family-friendly environment.”