A COMMUNITY-FOCUSED cafe and bakery on London Road is the start of an ambitious project to create a contemporary art space between the Calton area and the Trongate.

Over the past two and a half years the first stage of the venue has been created by Steven Turner and his friends, including adding 5500 tiles glazed in volcanic ash from Mount Etna to the walls, putting in a soundproofing ceiling, pouring concrete floors and building an open kitchen for the unit overlooking Barrowland Park.

The building was previously Steven’s textile studio, before that it was a bookies.

Steven said: “I was doing long shifts, sleeping in the studio, working on screen-printing orders. I realised that life wasn’t for me. I wanted to open a coffee shop and I saw there was a gap right here, a disconnect between this area and the Merchant City. I was always confused about why there wasn’t something like this in this part of town.”

“I applied for planning permission and it was consistently refused. It turned out there was a rule about the percentage of businesses this side of the Saltmarket that could serve hot food and hold an alcohol licence.

“I read a lot of council documents and saw there was a plan to reconnect the Calton to the rest of the city centre, so I started having conversations about where this project fits into that aim.”

Glasgow Times:

Steven’s background working at venues like SWG3 and The Arches added layers to his coffee shop plan. He explained: “We are working on a 1000sq ft of garden space that will open next year alongside a wine bar in the back of the unit and an art gallery that will be the centre of what was a warehouse space.

“We will expand on established connections with Glasgow School of Art to offer a platform for recent graduates to showcase their work. After the winter we hope to have a restaurant offering.”

The new location breaches the visual barrier of the railway bridge on London Road, offering a new place to gather on the way to the newly renovated urban realm around the Barrowland.

Glasgow Times:

The project includes proposals for a Glasgow farm-to-fork kitchen.

Steven’s planning document outlines: “With the coffee and kitchen space offering locally sourced, sustainable foods alongside in-house baked breads and pastries from the bakery, Outlier has its sights set on a three to five-year plan to further develop this arm of the business through the use of 10 acres of land we have secured outside of Houston, Johnstone to grow our own vegetable, grains and herbs.

“This would allow us to not only have access to guaranteed pesticide-free, organic produce, it would allow us to offer training opportunities to vulnerable groups, and offer educational days and events to local schools – increasing awareness of sustainable practices and what the sustainable agricultural sector has to offer.

“We have already begun conversations with award-winning local restaurants who have expressed great interest in partnering with the farm to supply their kitchens and enlist their staff in training days to educate them further on the process of how food gets to the table.”

Steven added: “This is about starting a community around the wine bar and cafe that can help fund the gallery, it feels like a more robust model for sustaining an art space than relying on public funding.”

Glasgow Times:

Eleven weeks after opening, Outlier is currently serving a selection of coffees – try an espresso by the Good Coffee Cartel – alongside popular sandwiches like their chicken Parmo with bacon, Béchamel, Loch Arthur cheddar, Parmesan, spring onion, chives, spicy tomato sauce on house ciabatta. From the bakery, ask for a rhubarb galette or cardamon bun.