West end institution – The Rio Cafe – has a new look. Its heart will remain in the same place – it's still a corner cafe, open for breakfast, lunch, tea, booze and entertainment – but it's had a facelift and has a new menu.
There's also a new face behind the bar, Grahame Skinner, former frontman of 1980s band Hipsway. When not performing music and writing songs, the Honeythief singer has been pouring drinks and making cappuccinos in Glasgow's Rock Garden bar and Warehouse cafe.. He worked in London for Oliver Peyton, before coming back home to Scotland around 10 years ago.
Under his guidance, the menu at Rio's will continue to focus on the cafe's famous breakfasts (Number 1 in Buzzfeed's list of breakfasts to beat a hangover in Glasgow, May 2014). These will be supplemented by a pared down, all-day menu including the cafe's justifiably famous meatballs, vegan shepherd's pie and home-made burgers.
Ice-cream floats and knickerbocker glories now come in boozy versions as well as the child-friendly originals.
The beer range has been expanded to include craft beers, two of which have a special connection with Graheme. Williams Bros's Hipsway and Honey Thief will now take pride of place on the gantry. The Rio will also offer Coast to Coast and Three Hop from Caledonian Brewery, as well as Theakston's Old Peculiar and Barista Stout.
Inside the rejigged bar, the booths down the side remain in place. The bar has moved to the far end beside the kitchen, to allow more space for high tables and for drinkers to stand and chat.
The raised platform area will stay in place, to be used by the regular performers at jazz, cabaret and spoken word nights. Grahame will introduce some of these events and may be persuaded to play a couple of songs himself.
Owner Iain Maclean says that these tweaks will allow the Rio to continue serving its loyal clientele while introducing the cafe to new customers.
“The Rio has a huge following and is widely loved by folk from the west end and further afield,” he said. “But we need to give them a reason to keep coming back. With Grahame behind the bar to welcome them, and more space for groups who want to socialise at weekends, we are sure the new-look Rio will hit the spot.”
The Rio Cafe, 27 Hyndland Street, G11 5QF