"Our first table of 3 regulars in at 11am celebrated with 3 pints of Tennents" - Scots business owners react to reopening

A some businesses reopen from today, 26 April, owners react to seeing customers again.

Published 26th Apr 2021
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

Today, 26 April, has been marked in many diaries since it was announced that hospitalty could reopen in Scotland.

Despite the cooler and less sunny weather than we have seen in recent days, customers returned to bars and restaurants across Scotland to socialise once again.

Here business owners tell of their relief and joy at being able to open again.

Helen Lawrenson of Falkland Stewardship Trust said: "It has been a delight to see so many people spend time outdoors enjoying the natural environment over the last year.

"Falkland Estate relies on income to care for paths, trees, and the environment that so many people enjoy visiting.

"With our cafe and shop closed and unable to generate income, this has been an extremely challenging time for us, as it has been for many others.

" We have used this time wisely however and re-organised spaces, both indoors and out, to offer an enhanced visitor experience. We can't wait to invite walkers, cyclists, families and friends into the Stables Garden Cafe and Shop.”

Will Docker, Co-founder of Balgove Larder added: "We are delighted to be able to re-open The Steak Barn and firing up the grill for indoor and outdoor dining.

"The whole team have been hard at work ensuring we can re-open safely and we can’t wait to welcome back visitors for tasty, locally sourced food.”

Debs Newman, Holyrood Distillery’s brand home manager is delighted to be able to reopen their Courtyard bar, and said: "After a massively challenging year for everyone, and a particularly tough time for the hospitality industry, I know the distillery team will all be very emotional to see people back here again, enjoying the space, sipping our new gin, and supporting the other small distillers and brewers that we are showcasing”.

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Lynsey Harley, founder of Modern Standard Coffee Roastery and Cafe commented that she's been blown away by the support the business has had for reopening.

She said: "Our café team have loved being able to serve coffee in a proper cup which has felt like such a treat rather than purely a takeaway.

"Opening the café in December means we feel like this is our official launch today and it’s been great to have so many smiling customers visit to enjoy our coffee, cake and chat.’

Graham Bucknall, co-owner of The Bridge Inn, Ratho and Ship Inn, Elie mentioned how hard they've worked to reopen.

He said: “We shut our doors on Christmas Eve and here we are re-opening four months and a day later.

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"We have worked in glorious sunshine these last few weeks getting everything organised, so sure enough today has been windy and pretty cold.

"But at least the rain has stayed away for now.

"Our first table of three regulars in at 11am celebrated with 3 pints of Tennents.

"The second table to arrive ordered a bottle of champagne before they had even sat down.

"And then it has been just well-paced ever since. We are expecting a post-work rush this evening, especially as the sun is starting to come through, and then bookings are really solid all week. This weekend is looking REALLY busy.

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"Phones have also been ringing constantly - lots of explanations needed for table sizes, inside/outside alcohol, closing times, but everyone seems excited to be booking again.

"We have some teething problems (mostly IT) but the customers won’t have noticed and it has just been fabulous to get back open.

"Last July there was a huge emphasis everywhere on restrictions, instructions, stickers on floors.

"Now we are all so used to this, and everyone knows the way to behave.

"There’s none of the nervousness we saw last year, from customers and from staff. This time everyone knows the score and are determined to get back to doing some of the things we have all missed.

"It’s great to be open. And I never want to go through the last few months ever again.”

Scots-born international hotelier, Gordon Campbell Gray, owner of The Wee Hotel Company’s Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye and The Pierhouse Hotel & Seafood Restaurant at Port Appin, said: “We’re all absolutely thrilled to be opening our doors again at The Three Chimneys on Skye and The Pierhouse in Port Appin after what has been a long hard Winter. On a positive note it has given us an opportunity to carry out some renovations and to reflect.

“To see the teams returning, the rooms being prepared, the kitchens coming back to life and the enthusiasm as new dishes are created is pure magic. 

"It is also so lovely to see all our local suppliers arriving with their freshly caught catches and produce and smiles on their faces.

"It has been an equally stressful time for them too and we are all hopeful that we are now truly safely back in business.

“What has added to our excitement is the level of bookings we are receiving and we are hugely appreciative to our loyal following of guests and diners.  

"Our aim is to give them all the biggest welcome possible and to enjoy a beautiful, safe and fun experience in the glorious Highlands. 

“It has been tough for so many and I wish everyone in hospitality a successful return to business."

Nic Wood, director of Signature Group, which owns and operates over 20 bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues around Scotland, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews, Bridge of Allan and Aberdeen, added: “It’s with a great sense of relief that we open four of our 21 bars and restaurants today.

“I owe a debt of gratitude to my staff who have worked hard ensuring all the Covid safety measures are in place so our customers understand the continued Covid restrictions and are now delighted to see the doors opening and customers returning in their droves.

“The rebuilding of our sector begins now.

"We are so grateful to our customers who have booked with us to reunite with friends and family over a meal and some drinks, I too look forward to doing the same.”

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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