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EXCLUSIVE: Aberdeen club promoters launch The Bike Yard, a new street food park at former McGowan Motorcycles venue

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A new street food yard with an indoor and alfresco pop-up bar will launch in Aberdeen next week.

The Bike Yard is the brainchild of north-east club promoters, Rory Masson and Scott Forest, who want to drive footfall to the George Street area of the city centre and create a community hub.

Based at the former McGown Motorcycles on Hutcheon Street, the yard will open on Thursday July 1.

It will run every Thursday to Sunday and Rory and Scott hope to open the venue, which consists of a yard and three buildings, more as the demand for the space grows.

From left: The Bike Yard organisers Rory Masson and Scott Forrest.

It will operate until the end of September with the vision of continuing on a more permanent basis if it is deemed a success by the landlord.

Community project

The “creative hub” is a community-driven project and will feature various local businesses and vendors.

Street food firm The Pigs Wings will be the resident caterer, with other vendors including A La Cart Aberdeen signed up to serve food.

Rory said: “We’re taking over the old McGowan Motorcycles yard and venue on Hutcheon Street between Mounthooly and George Street.

The duo look to bring the biggest beer garden to Aberdeen.

“It is a big yard with three buildings. There’s a big showroom over two floors, another glass showroom and a garage. We’ve got all three buildings and we’ll have the full yard and the showrooms licensed for now.

“It is community-driven and we’ve got loads of different vendors and businesses operating in the buildings. I love bringing people and ideas together so there will be a real mix of creativity on the one site.

“We have a new business, Two Racoons, who are brewing their own mango and banana wine in the mechanic’s garage. When they get their certificates we’ll sell the wine from the beer garden bar.

Some of the food from The Pigs Wings.

“Scott and I will be responsible for the overall project like the bar and that sort of thing. The Pigs Wings will be our main food residency and they will be there every day. Their food is amazing so we’re really excited to have them involved.

“There will be a second vendor which will rotate every few weeks and we’ve got A La Cart Aberdeen coming along which is a bike which they’ve turned into a creperie machine station.”

Capacity at “Aberdeen’s biggest beer garden”

Seating around 250 people, Rory says it will be the biggest beer garden in the city centre and, as a result, they have hired 13 staff already.

He said: “We can seat 190 outside in the yard and around 50 to 60 inside in the showroom. It is a massive venue and will be one of the biggest beer gardens in Aberdeen I think. We could add some more tables outside, too.”

The team at A La Cart Aberdeen will be based at The Bike Yard.

“We have a bar manager and have hired 12 bar staff. The garage and McGowan’s Motorcycles has been empty for around a year and a half. The landlord didn’t know what to do with it and it has just been sitting there.

“We’re reinvigorating a disused site and that end of town is underutilised. All of the big beer gardens and bars are up in the west end, but so many people live down this area so it will be nice to give them something more locally.

“We will have it until the end of September but there is an option to make it more permanent, too, so everything going well the landlord would be happy for us to take it on and run with it and make it a permanent site. It is so different to everything else in the city.”

From left: Marcos Sasso (left), owner of The Pigs Wings and staff member, Ross Graham.

Live music

Scott and Rory organise club nights and festivals for a living. Due to the nightclub industry still not having a clear route to reopening in Scotland yet because of the coronavirus pandemic, the duo have turned their attention to bringing live music to the masses by teaming it with street food and alfresco bars.

Rory added: “I usually run club nights and festivals under RARE Club, and organise events. We organise Cultivate Festival which is happening in September and will have around 5,000 people at it.

Jo Mair, The Bike Yard bar manager.

“My partner, Scott Forest, also organises club nights in Aberdeen and is the head booker for SW3 in Glasgow. We haven’t worked in a year and a half, and we’re not sure when clubs will be reopening, so we wanted to get together and bring this amazing site to life.

“We were inspired by our travels to Amsterdam and Berlin for the concept. These spaces in industrial areas or disused areas end up becoming community social spaces where there’s loads of different people working on a variety of projects. We’ll have art exhibitions, yoga classes, the wine project and so many more.

“A huge thing for us is live music and DJs so we want to incorporate. The space has massive walls on three sides of it so we aren’t disturbing anyone, even though it is in a residential area.

A sneak preview of some of the space.

“When we were given our licence it said we weren’t allowed to play music in the yard so I went back to the council, Police Scotland and other bodies – they changed their mind and we’re now allowed. We’re the only beer garden which has been allowed to have that when we open in Aberdeen, for the moment.”

The Bike Yard will be open from 4pm to 10pm on Thursdays and from noon to 10pm Fridays to Sundays. Bookings will go live before opening.

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