ORAN Mor stands sentry at the junction of Great Western Road and Byres Road, a West End landmark transformed into a meeting place for pints and pals.

The impressive surroundings of what was Kelvinside Parish Church, with its tall Gothic spire, has become an important venue for art, culture and food.

The beautiful, imposing structure was built in 1862. In 1978, with congregation numbers dwindling, the decision was made to merge with Hillhead Parish Church, leaving the former parish redundant and derelict.

It lay there waiting for a purpose until work started to refurbish the space as an arts centre in 2002. Two years later, the venue opened. It became a beacon for artists and writers, offering a platform for new productions and fostering local collaborations. The ceiling murals in the auditorium by Alasdair Gray are one of the largest pieces of public art in Scotland.

At its core, Oran Mor is one of Glasgow’s pubs. As we head into the spring, the picnic tables outside will be in demand and there will be stories to share at the bar. Then there is the ongoing spectacle of A Play, A Pie And A Pint lunchtime theatre. Actor Gavin Mitchell once described it to me as “the essence of what theatre should be – cheap, accessible and it brings people together”. 

“They give opportunities to young actors and writers, you have old hands involved. 

“We all get together and figure out a production fairly quickly, it is exciting and a little bit scary. All of a sudden you’re out there on that wee stage. The smell of the pies, and you’re away.”

Food will be a more prominent part of proceedings at Oran Mor from next week as it launches The Brasserie. It has appointed a new head chef, Dylan Morris, who will lead the revamp of their menus after previously working at Six by Nico, One Devonshire Gardens and Malmaison.

Jo Wright, head of events, tells me: “We’ve a new team, led by Dylan and he is a wee breath of fresh air in the kitchen. We are currently finalising the new menus. He is focusing in on local produce, seasonality and taking simple ingredients and presenting them well.

“I suppose, in the context of everything that happens at Oran Mor, our primary focus has not been on the restaurant. Now, we have completely renovated the room, it looks stunning and this is an opportunity to elevate that side of things and take it in a completely different direction.”

The entrance to The Brasserie is on Great Western Road, making it a self-contained part of the building and linking it to the burgeoning food and drink scene nearby. “Oran Mor is well established, this is just an opportunity to remind people that we are here and moving things forward in the kitchen,” Jo says.

Elsewhere, the venue is experiencing a matrimonial boom. “We have so many weddings, all the people who couldn’t get married over the last two years,” Jo explains. “That’s back-to-back upstairs in our auditorium at the moment.

“Corporate bookings have started to come back, which is lovely to see. The bar is doing really well and then we have the gigs downstairs with a full calendar. All the parts of Oran Mor are doing great now, we have just decided to put more attention onto the food side of things.”

The Brasserie at Oran Mor opens on April 20.