Harry's Bar in Edinburgh set for relaunch as team behind Sofi’s and Joseph Pearce take over

It's been one of Edinburgh's most popular nightlife spots for over 20 years, now Harry's Bar in the west end is set to be given a new lease of life.

Published 16th Nov 2018
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

The team behind the award-winning Boda Bar Group, owners of the popular drinking destinations Sofi’s, Joseph Pearce and Akva, have just announced that they have taken over the popular watering hole, with plans to relaunching to the public just in time for the festive season.

Now the seventh venue in the Boda portfolio, owners Mike and Anna Christopherson say they are keen to retain the community-led ethos that has made Harry's the destination of choice for revellers looking for
a good night out since its opening back in 1986.

Harry's Bar
Picture: Harry's Bar

Mike Christopherson said: "It's an amazing venue, especially because its a landmark bar in Edinburgh. It had lost its way a little and we want to take it back to a place that is rooted in the community.
"The whole of the west end has been changing with quite a few independents on one side and some big chains on the other. What we want to do is create more of a community spirit in the area and as part of that we will be looking to reposition Harry's Bar back to what it was originally, which was a really great nightspot."

Co-owner Anna added that they will be working with other local companies to make the west end "the place to go", she said: "Right now the west end is really underrated. There is so much to do here and it's very easy to get to and get into town from."

As part of the relaunch, the bar has been given a makeover, as well as a new food menu and extensive drinks offering, with Mike and Anna explaining that they have brought the Scandinavian style, tongue-in-cheek humour and 'hygge culture' that the group is so well-known for.

Anna said: "Don't worry, we'll be keeping it as a regulars bar, where people know each other and can meet new interesting people who live in the area.
"We have changed the interior a little, we want to create a warmer atmosphere, so previously it was very black and brown and that's not our style at all. Someone said recently that it's been 'anna-fied', meaning it's now cosier and more welcoming."

Harry's Bar
Picture: Harry's Bar

The pair stated it's important that the bar regains its reputation as a top late night venue and as such will be opening the bar until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays.

They've added a new roster of events to enjoy too, with live music once again being a key feature including the addition of acoustic music sessions on Sundays.

Anna Christopherson said: “We pride ourselves on offering customers a fantastic time in any of our bars, and we know that Harry’s Bar is synonymous with enjoyment. We can’t wait to welcome a whole new generation of customers to this iconic bar, and of course, welcome back everyone who has loved Harry’s Bar over the years too.”

Mike confirmed that they will be carrying on the spirit of social enterprise that the bar is known for and will be investing in people going forward by using Harry's as a training centre for future talent.

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Harry's Bar
Picture: Harry's Bar

He said: "We will have a priority to train people who normally would not get a job within hospitality, that can be young people with difficult backgrounds who have difficulty getting a regular work, to people from minority groups who have a problem with getting a foot in the door of the job market for different reasons.

"Training will feature everything from very basic people skills to front of house, bar, and back bar, as well the whole range of Kitchen work.

"We want to show people how you can create a career path within hospitality and that everyone doesn't need to be an IT professional to have a career."

Dubbed Boda Competence, the new skills programme will take place during the day at Harry's and will teach people all about working in the hospitality sector.

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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