Hawick's new 'city bar' has a familiar name that townsfolk are sure to remember

Hawick’s new ‘city bar’ may offer something completely different – but its name is firmly rooted in the past.

By Paul Kelly
Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 1:54 pm
Ashley Barry at The Gretel. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)
Ashley Barry at The Gretel. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)

The Gretel bar at 13 Teviot Crescent closed a number of years ago.

It later became 13 Brew and then, towards the end of 2019, The Oak Lounge.

But for townsfolk The Gretel name seems to be the one that still resonates most powerfully.

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Now the Oak Lounge’s owner Ashley Barry has decided to return the venue to that name and has invested £40,000 in a bid to make it one of the swankiest and most ladies-friendly bar in the Borders.

Ashley said: "It was known as The Gretel a good few years ago. I wanted to change the name and re-brand and it was just very fitting to return it to The Gretel.

"All the stories I have heard were about all the good times people had at The Gretel and if you ever asked people about the Oak Lounge they never really knew where it was, but once you said The Gretel they did.”

The first floor has been refurbished to create a dinning room with exclusive booth areas and the ground floor is a bar.

Ashley, who has a decade of experience in the hospitality industry, said: “The decor is quite funky and is a bit different to other establishments in the area. It’s just about the idea of going out and having a good time, having food, cocktails and good company. That’s the atmosphere I wanted to create. I wanted to bring the fun times back.

"Women are my target audience, people who enjoy cocktails. We’ve started doing brunch on a Friday and Saturday, which is really popular in the cities, with prosecco and cocktails and even non-alcoholic cocktails.

"I don’t leave the men out but we do pull in a lot of the ladies, everyone from eighteen year old girls dressed up coming in for cocktails up through the ages.

“If you look at the pubs in Hawick a lot of them are for men and I like the city-vibe and having choice and selection was a big thing for me.

"I have put a lot of thought into the decor, everything in that place was hand-selected by myself, down to the colours, the floors, the wallpaper. Some of the wallpaper is bespoke made from London.”

The venue last week hosted dignitaries from the Common Riding after the dipping of the flag ceremony and it has already won over the hearts of many townsfolk.

Ashley, mum to four-year-old Lilyann, added: “It has been hard and a lot of people thought I was mad making such an investment but we have been really busy and the support from the local community has been unbelievable and it’s been such a great feeling to get that support.”