Three brothers are looking to bring a hint of British hospitality to Doha
Three brothers are on a quest to bring a proper Brit-themed pub to Qatar.
Money and friendship don’t mix, or so the old adage goes, but muddling siblings with business is a whole other tale. Family firms have existed for as long as man has been trading rare stones for goods and services. But in today’s world of high street chains and global conglomerates, it’s rare to find a true family affair at play – especially in Doha’s nightlife trade, where venues are typically housed in five star hotels. Enter the Garvey brothers, who are bringing a fraternally personal touch to their.
Since opening in early May, The Rose & Thistle has brought to Qatar an unashamedly nostalgic slice of Anglo-Irish life – namely, the local. Based at the Horizon Manor Hotel, near Doha International Airport, the pub prides itself on keeping alive all the pastimes European expats will remember from their community haunt back home. So alongside dark wooden furnishings you can expect familiar stalwarts like live music, a pub quiz, darts and plenty of Brit-themed ‘pub grub’.
The men behind it are brothers Chris, 56, Melvin, 50, and Danny Garvey – barman, head chef and partner respectfully – who pledge that it’s the personal touch which keeps their already-regulars coming back.
‘Basically it’s a people’s pub,’ says older brother Danny, aged 66. ‘Our aim was to create that typical warm British pub feel, a welcoming atmosphere which is friendly for customers.’
So far the bar has proved popular with sports fans, attracting plenty of punters for World Cup games last month, and plans to build on this success with spirited screenings of Premier League and other European football matches when the domestic leagues kick off again this month. Other regular attractions include live music at weekends, a forthcoming weekly pub quiz (likely to be on Mondays) and themed events and nights.
Food is another draw, with head chef Melvin an established kitcheneer with decades of experience, including eight years at the former Dubai Country Club golf resort. He’s crafted two menus – fine dining and pub grub – but perhaps predictably the latter is coming out on top so far. Doha’s favourite dish? ‘Melvin does a mean fish and chips,’ Danny boasts, before adding that plans are also underway to host special gourmet dining evenings.
Strolling the empty bar’s boards, we can’t help asking where the name came from. In a typical British pub, no one among the staff or regulars can remember when or why a venue boasts its oblique moniker (Red Lion, Royal Oak and White Hart are reportedly the most popular pub names, with more than 400 of each in the UK). While a three month old venue might find it tricky to muddy the waters quite so quickly, no one really seems certain why The Rose & Thistle name – of which there are just five in the UK – was chosen. ‘It’s just a name, it’s not from anything special,’ says Danny airily. ‘Although Rose happens to be an abbreviation of my wife’s name’.
After just three months the formula seems to be working, with the pub regularly rammed at weekends. And it’s the Garvey family’s own fondness for pubs which they thank for such sudden success.
‘Obviously we’ve all had many years of going to pub, so we know what we like,’ adds Danny, a Qatar resident of 22 years. ‘It’s a new approach – we’re offering a real, homely atmosphere where people can feel free to enjoy themselves in a traditional British or Irish pub. It’s that warm feeling we’re bringing to Doha.’ Open daily 5pm-2am. The Rose & Thistle, Horizon Manor Hotel, Jabr Bin Mohd St (+974-4445 5444).
A taste of Britain in Doha
This colonial-tinged waterside spot serves up a mix of British and US staples. The Ritz-Carlton Doha, West Bay Lagoon (+974-4484 8000).
JG Sandwich Cellar
Solid British favourites on offer in a eccentrically decorated dining space. Ras Abu Abboud (4435 7559).
Opal by Gordon Ramsay
The celeb chef offers up burgers and less pretentious fare at this casual dining spot. The St Regis Doha, West Bay (4446 0105).
Source: Time Out Doha