So L.A. founders talk exclusively to Business Insider

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Insider UK Interview

James and Louise Rusk, of RUSK & RUSK, explain why they have invested £1m bringing another new outlet to Glasgow city centre.

Glasgow was given a hazy breath of California when a scintillating new hotspot opened in the city centre. RUSK & RUSK’s So L.A. at 43 Mitchell Street has been kept strictly under wraps but it promises to be another sensational offering for Glasgow’s already-teeming night life.

Eight years ago James and Louise Rusk took a gamble to open the Butchershop Bar & Grill at the unfashionable end of Sauchiehall Street, opposite the Kelvingrove Park bowling greens.

From day one, it set a new standard for eateries in Glasgow with its range of rump, fillet, rib-eye Aberdeen Angus steaks and its tomahawk and porterhouse prime cuts.

Since then the couple have not stopped and proven they are among Glasgow’s hospitality elite with the creation of lauded The Spanish Butcher, in Miller Street, and Hutchesons City Grill, the city’s iconic A-listed building.

Now the RUSK & RUSK founders have invested over £1 million in creating the latest Glasgow hotspot, an all-day bar, restaurant and event space that teleports the customer right into the colour, sunshine and glitz of California.

James said: “We love going to California and enjoy visiting LA. There are so many different kinds of sights and sounds, from the Pacific Ocean to skiing in the mountains, to Napa Valley and its vineyards, to the vibrant and bustling metropolis of LA. California has always been a real pioneer when it comes to the culinary arts — from its extraordinary use of fresh produce to its fun and atmospheric interiors.

"We wanted to pay tribute to all of this blend of culture and bring along the great tastes too. We’ve spent a lot of time out there researching this new venue place.’’

With such a track record, the expectation for So L.A. are Rocky-mountain high indeed.

“I think this will become another amazing eating place for Glasgow and for Scotland. We are always trying to push the boundaries and we think we’ve done this with our new place,’’ said James.

Louise added: “We’ve built our reputation of great customer service and we invest a great deal in training and making sure we get every thing right. We understand we’re in the hospitality industry and this is people spending their leisure time with us.’’

RUSK & RUSK started with 15 to 20 and now employs over 200 people. James Rusk says one of the pleasures has been watching people grow into their positions, and some of the staff from the existing restaurants have moved up to new roles in So L.A.

“This is great for everybody. It means fresh challenges for people with new experiences and things to learn. Meantime, we can bring new people in and instil our culture and the way we strive to do things.’’

Group development chef John Molloy, and head chef from the Butchershop, Paul O’Malley, have been heavily involved in the project and are responsible for the food preparation and presentation, while Fiona Stewart, is head of brand strategy and communications, Amie Duncan, head of training, Jennifer Gray, event manager, and Erin Stevenson, business support manager.

Louise and James worked together on the concept for the site in Mitchell Street, which is between Argyle Street and Gordon Street.

“For example, the colours of California are fresh with pinks and light blues and greens there is the influences of Asian, Mexican and European. Whether you like a steak or a vegan, we want you to find something good to eat and enjoy.’’

The all-day 6,000 sq ft venue has room for 150 covers and hidden beneath the bar and restaurant, customers will find The White Box – a spectacular, subterranean urban garden designed for private functions. James Rusk says this can be tailored to suit an event, be that a conference, a fashion show or a corporate dinner.

“It’s a unique space where we have room for up to 80 guests. We think it will become a popular place for one-off gathering sand special events’’

Louise said: “We founded RUSK & RUSK because we love the city and we are committed to creating amazing spaces with global appeal. Our investment in Mitchell Street is a continuation of our commitment to the city and its economy.’’

The venue boasts an inclusive and highly inventive menu, which will appeal to meat lovers, vegetarians and vegans alike. Diners can expect bold flavour combinations that celebrate the eclectic cultures and cuisines known for influencing the Californian dining scene; with signature dishes including the Szechuan Duck Doughnut, Sautéed Chickpea Panisse, Street Corn and Miso Glazed Beef Fillet.

So L.A. opened Friday 9 November and runs from 11am through to midnight weekdays and 1am Friday-Saturday.

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