Coffee and a Shoogle


Glasgow Subway’s Hillhead station is about to be placed on the coffee map… as the city’s popular home grown chain, Tinderbox, opens a new outlet next to the ticket office on Monday 20 October.

Carlo Ventisei started the Tinderbox empire a few hundred yards away on Byres Road back in 1998 where the iconic corner location with the signature Vespa in the window remains a popular stop over for coffee lovers.

Now Carlo is excited by the prospect of also offering the Subway Shooglers a cup of his quality coffee on the go.

“It is quite significant from our point of view,” he explained. “We started off in Byres Road 16 years ago and have now got units in London and Manchester but we are a Glasgow company. We have an affinity with the West End too, so to open in the Subway is a big step for us. We are looking forward to attracting a new range of customers.”

The new Tinderbox will be instantly recognisable as part of the chain – but offers something a little different.

“We use creative people to create a unique space which people will like,” Carlo explains. “That is our reply to shop in a box from the large chains. It’s all about individuality in terms of our coffee and our customers. There is something intrinsically Tinderbox about it. And there is a Vespa in there somewhere!”

When he started Tinderbox, Carlo points out, Starbucks was only arriving in the UK and the concept of a “quality coffee” was quite new. Since then he believes his home city has been at the forefront of change.

“After London, and this is recognised throughout the UK, Glasgow is the second home of speciality coffee. This is where there has been the most innovation and the most growth. The idea of seeking out an independent handmade coffee is very much where it is at. Great coffee on the move is big for us.”

The emphasis of new Hillhead Subway Tinderbox is on takeaways – although there are four stools available if you are lucky enough, and have the time to grab one. A great place to sit, watch the world go by, and admire Alasdair Gray’s unique mural.

The full Tinderbox coffee menu is up for sale, along with many of their food favourites. But will that include those creamy custardy Portuguese tarts? Carlo laughs: “I’ll see what I can do!”