All by myself

There’s probably never been a tougher time to go out there and open your own venue. Recent industry reports show that rising property, food and people costs are putting a big strain on independent owners and input costs can be sky high.

But when you’ve had enough of working for The Man, Imbibe Live knows there’s nothing that will stand in your way. That’s why the team has organised a special Q&A session with two of Imbibe Live’s ambassadors who have walked the often treacherous path of opening their own places, and lived to tell the tale.

Spirits Ambassador Stuart McCluskey went his own way for the first time in 2008, with The Bon Vivant in Edinburgh city centre. It has since won awards including the prestigious Best International Restaurant Bar at Tales of the Cocktail 2014 Spirited Awards, been placed in the Michelin Guide multiple times and has a sister bar, The Bon Vivant Stockbridge. Stuart has added yet more bars to his quiver in the form of The Devil’s Advocate and El Cartel, all in Edinburgh.

Xavier Rousset MS, Imbibe Live’s Wine Ambassador, is also no stranger to venturing out alone. With the title of youngest Master Sommelier of the Year under his belt, he left the group of wine-led outlets 28-50 to open Blandford Comptoir in Marylebone, which was featured in Fay Maschler’s Best Restaurants of 2016. It now has sister restaurants in Cabotte, in the city, and Comptoir Café & Wine, in Mayfair.

Q&As: Going it Alone, Day 2, 12.15pm, The Academy