The sale of Ubiquitous Chip is one of the most significant acquisitions of the last decade in Glasgow.

With the cornerstone of Ashton Lane comes West End stalwarts Stravaigin and Hanoi Bike Shop, the totality of the business legacy of the Clydesdale  family, which started with the Chip on Ruthven Lane in 1971.

For people who had grown up with these restaurants being a fixed point in their social lives, the announcement unravelled a cascade of emotion, quickly becoming a microcosm of concern about the current state of local hospitality.

READ MORE: Glasgow restaurant Ubiquitous Chip sold to UK pub chain

Glasgow Times:

Michael Horan is the Managing Director of Metropolitan Pub Company and the new owner. I meet him upstairs at the Chip. A glance towards the Alasdair Gray mural on the stairwell, a nod to some familiar faces among the staff, echoes of decades of dinners, pints of Fürstenberg being conveyed to the tables outside on the sunniest day of the year.

Glasgow Times:

Michael first sat down with Colin Clydesdale, above, and his partner Carol Wright to look at the business in October last year: "I used to live in the West End and my wife is from Glasgow so I've known the venues for a long time.

"Getting to know Colin and Carol, they've worked really hard, they have got through Covid, I think they just realised that it was a good time for them to sell.

"A lot of the conversation was about giving them some comfort about what we would do with the business."

An important part of the Glasgow food story is now within a portfolio of "70 independently run gastropubs".

Michael begins by explaining "Metropolitan is an umbrella brand for those businesses, you will never see that name above the front door.

"We want to achieve high-end premium gastropubs that are run by the managers and chefs of the business.

"They have autonomy to develop their own food with local provenance and their own liquor."

He bristles when I talk about the reaction when the news broke on Thursday night. "What's really disappointing is how it was reported as Greene King acquiring this business.

"Yes we were born out of Greene King but we are run completely independently. We started with 59 sites in 2019, mostly London-centric and by the end of this year we should get to 78 sites. Each one of them is different.

"In those three years, we have been nominated for the best employer and the best premium food offering at the Publican Awards.

"We are developing the right credentials as a business. Our portfolio is a range of businesses, some of them 300 years old, that are beautifully unique and that's part of what we're about".

The change in ownership has implications for the 145 members of staff in the group. This week has been about reassuring them after the reaction to the sale. "We're looking at the rates of pay. We can improve them and we need to resource the businesses up."

Stravaigin and Hanoi Bike Club exist in the orbit of Ubiquitous Chip, a monolith of Glasgow hospitality with a hold on a devoted West End constituency. Did he buy the Chip and get two places with it?: "I think we've got a really good management team here that can operate the three businesses". We chat about the merits of each location, how they fit into the personal story of Colin and Carol, the connection to the local community, their reputation beyond the confines of Glasgow.

The question I really came here to ask is what will he do to the Chip? "We're going to carry things on, we'll work with the team. They will form the business plan for here and then we will look at what we can improve or enhance. Doug Lindsay has been in the kitchen for 20 years, he still owns the menu.

"They have a Heineken dispensing system here which limits them to Heineken products that doesn't really compliment what they're trying to do with the food so we will look to remove that so we can open ourselves up to any local brewers. We won't take out Fürstenberg, that stays."

Are the Alasdair Gray murals safe? "We're going to reach out to the Alasdair Gray Foundation and give them assurances about them. The stairwells are not protected but we intend to protect all the assets in this building. Why wouldn't you? We don't want to take away the spirit of the building or the culture that exists within it."

Metropolitan already has a presence in Scotland with the Cafe Royal in Edinburgh. Michael points to that as an example of his strategy, "I'm looking for local teams to drive things forward, they know what suits their location. I want to grow the business and look at new sites where we can recruit a team."

The start of the next stage for Ubiquitous Chip is a consultation with the existing team led by manager David Warrender. "He needs more staff, there are about 40 to 50 vacancies across the business. We need to look at immediate things like renovating the toilets and Colin and Carol had some brilliant ideas that were never executed like extending the roof terrace and things like that. We can do that and invest in the equipment in the kitchen. I already know that the staff here have their own ideas and passions so we will see where that goes first."

READ MORE: New restaurant opens in Glasgow after 'months' of planning

Having grown out of London and opening in Cambridge, Manchester and York this year, there's now a "pipeline of sites we're looking at in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Complimentary businesses".

What does Metropolitan as a group see in Glasgow? "Well, I like the west end but I just love the point of difference and that's what we are looking for. I think that's what's tragic about our industry, you go around cities and you see the same names and the same brands. There's a market for all of that but I'd rather see businesses that know who they are."