Eight Dundee pubs bought over as new boss looks to ‘chase’ his dream

The Boars Rock and, right, John Rollo
The Boars Rock and, right, John Rollo

A local bar manager has branched out and bought eight Dundee pubs as well as 11 residential properties for an undisclosed sum in a new joint venture with his wife.

John Rollo said he had always wanted to “chase” the dream of building a business empire and that he and wife Karen, 49, were seizing the opportunity with both hands.

The newly-purchased bars include The Boars Rock on Arbroath Road, which John has been running as area manager for nearly 20 years.

Other purchases include Halley’s Bar on Strathmartine Road, Caw’s Bar on Panmure Street, The Vault on Reform Street in Monifieth and Sandy’s Bar in Lochee.

John, 49, has also snapped up The Barn on Nursery Road, the Bowbridge Bar on Main Street and the Clep Bar on Clepington Road, giving him a wide regional reach.

He has kickstarted his residential property portfolio with 11 local properties, seven of which are located above Sandy’s Bar on Liff Road.

The purchases represent the next stage in a long career in the licensed trade for John.

He became area manager of Redwood Leisure, the previous owner of The Boars Rock, and has long been known by local people for his work in the community, especially with amateur football teams.

He then also became a shareholder in Redwood Leisure – which also runs the Invercarse Hotel, Woodlands Hotel and Birkhill Inn – in 2006.

However, when the opportunity arose to pursue the solo venture, John said he decided to “go for it”.

He said: “All the pubs have regular clientele which was important to me and I would like to keep them the same in the short term but maybe look at developing them into something else in the longer term.

“I have always wanted to chase something like this.”

Karen added: “I feel excited and I’m looking forward to starting back in the licensed trade.

“I’ve been away from it since 2010 when I left to work with the community alarm scheme.

“I feel it was the right opportunity, as John has worked in the licensed trade since he was 17.

“He started with Bett Inns when he was 24 then became involved with Redwood Leisure and has been with them for 25 years.

“I worked alongside John in the licensed trade for 20 years and I feel this is the next step for us.”

The couple’s investment in city pubs comes at a time when Dundee’s food and drink trade is enjoying a multi-million-pound boost.

Official statistics published by the Scottish Government last month revealed that food and beverage spend across the city grew by £43 million in the space of just one year in 2016.

Total turnover in Dundee’s restaurants and bars was £162.6m that year, up from £119.6m in 2015.