Talk about living life in the fast lane and you have to meet Aberdonian Jillian Miller. She has been so busy as sales and marketing director of the fast-expanding McGinty’s pub, hotel and restaurant group, her business card is a tad out of date.
Missing from the version she presented me with when we met at their No 10 bar and restaurant in the city’s Queen’s Terrace, are two iconic Union Street landmarks: the Grill bar, soon to be 150 years old, and the former Esslemont and Mcintosh emporium, now the Esslemont bar and restaurant on the ground floor and Mac’s Pizzeria on the first floor.
However, far from being out of breath at the breakneck speed of expansion in nearly five years with the company, Jillian is relishing the challenge of setting and maintaining the highest standards of service. ‘We are like a family and we are passionate about making our venues destinations for Aberdeen to be proud of,’ says the former pupil of Cults Academy and honours graduate in business management of the city’s Robert Gordon University.
‘We now employ about 250 peoplebut still have a close-knit group. We work hands on with our staff, specifically the venue managers and chefs, and we like to promote from within,’ she adds. For example, Abbie Michie started out as a waitress at No 10 three years ago and is now restaurant manager at yet another iconic watering hole in Aberdeen, the Silver Darling in Fittie, which has a stunning view of the mouth of the harbour.
‘It has had a fantastic year since we renovated it” says Jillian, ‘which greatly pleases our managing director Allan Henderson, who grew up nearby.’ Also, in the management team are operations director Alan Aitken and director Darren Young.
The group takes its name from McGinty’s bar at the top of Union Street, formerly Frankenstein’s. ‘It is now 10 years old but we reinvested & refurbished it a couple of years ago,’ says Jillian, ‘and it now has an area called the bothy for private functions. We also work hard to reflect changing trends and tastes in drinking habits, notably with the likes of the exploding market in gins.’ Hazard a guess at just how many you can choose from and you would not be far out at 60-plus. Wow!
Ferryhill House Hotel and the Stag bar in Crown Street, formerly the Star and Garter, are also in the McGinty’s portfolio as is the Four Mile at Kingswells.
Phew! I needed a lie down after getting the lowdown on Operation McGinty’s and I rather liked the notion that the company throws a big party for its own staff, not once, but twice a year. And, naturally, it’s all free. So what lies ahead for a group which is somehow bucking the trend of pub and hotel closures in Aberdeen? ‘Consistency is the name of the game,’ says Jillian. ‘We will continue to add value to our existing outlets and keep our focus on providing the best of service.’
Does she rule out further expansion? ‘Who knows,’ she says, before dashing off to get her business card updated!