The Elie establishment was praised for its excellent food, warm welcome and high standard of management upon winning the AA’s Scottish Pub of the Year for 2016-17.
The AA Hospitality Awards dinner was attended by over 1,200 of the best-known names in the industry, including star chefs, restaurant and hotel owners.
The award is a repeat for the Ship Inn’s owners, Graham and Rachel Bucknall, who won the same award in 2014 with the Ship’s sister pub, the Bridge Inn at Ratho.
Graham Bucknall said: “We are thrilled that this beautiful pub has been recognised with this award. We have loved the Ship Inn for many years as customers, and for the last two years as owners, and we have always known it could be a world class venue.
“To receive the AA accolade is testament to the tremendous hard work done by so many people in an incredibly short period of time. We are very proud that this beautiful corner of Scotland, the East Neuk of Fife, which has always been able to boast stunning scenery and an exceptionally friendly welcome, can now also claim to have Scotland’s Pub of the Year.”
The Ship Inn has long been regarded as of Scotland’s most iconic pubs and is famous for being the only pub in the world to have a cricket team with a pitch on the beach.
The Bucknalls purchased the venue in late 2014. Following a six-figure investment and major renovation programme last year, a brand new 70-cover restaurant has been added to the first floor with stunning views across the bay, six luxurious bedrooms created, and a licensed beer garden opened.
The Ship Inn works closely with suppliers to ensure it uses the very best of local and seasonal ingredients.
Bucknall added: “I guess we must be doing something right, as we’ve now won this award twice in three years, having also landed it in 2014 with the Bridge Inn at Ratho. Since then the Bridge Inn has continued to improve and grow, and we remain exceptionally proud of the great work that our exceptional team do there.
“We’re often asked if we’d take on another pub, and the answer is that we always have our eyes out for the next opportunity. But it would have to be the right property - one good enough to enable us to win three AA awards with three different venues …”
The Bucknall’s first experience of the pub industry was just seven years ago - Graham had switched from a career in finance and IT and Rachel was looking to get back into the working world with their children starting to grow up. Since buying the Bridge Inn they have won a slew of awards. They won the Catering Industry Scotland Pub Excellence Award in 2012, and in 2014 received six accolades including Best Food Pub for Scotland and Northern England at the Great British Pub Awards and even the DRAM Dog Friendly Pub of the Year, to go alongside their AA Pub of the Year Award