Pub trade hopes – Dreel or no Dreel?

Dreel Tavern, Anstruther. Pic by George McLuskie
Dreel Tavern, Anstruther. Pic by George McLuskie
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Hopes remain that the closure of one of Anstruther’s best-known pubs will not be another nail in the coffin of the local licensed trade.

The Dreel Tavern shut on January 3, with the loss of around six jobs, some months after a well-publicised fight to stay viable in the face of costs and council tax.

The West High Street pub was popular with regulars and drew a number of favourable on-line comments, as well as trying to bolster its attraction with live music, open mic nights and pub quizzes.

Celebrated local musician King Creosote also played a Christmas gig there in 2014.

But, while some residents contacted the Mail to say they feared for the future of the trade, Dreel owner Stars Pubs & Bars has reported healthy interest in taking over the premises, while other local people believe it may be back in business in due course.

“We’ve had a number of enquiries from people interested in leasing the Dreel Tavern and hope it will open again very soon, as it is a charming traditional pub in a great location,” said a spokesman.

“Star Pubs & Bars is happy to invest in the pub to help develop the business further.”

The new licensee will have to enter an agreement with a brewery over the supply of beer and cider, while the lease is available on Star’s business start-up agreement, with a support package to the value of just over £11,200, and a rent of £12,000 a year.

More details are available on Star’s website at www.starpubs.co.uk

However, the number of pub and hotel closures to have hit Anstruther in the last two or three years has led some residents to suggest the area is “sinking slowly but surely”.

It was reported in late 2014 that the Dreel faced closure after being hit with a £12,000 council tax bill, while the decline in business in the west end, including the closure of a caravan site and several bed and breakfasts, was said to to have contributed to its demise.

One Anstruther resident suggested the rent and the council tax meant it was very difficult to make the figures add up, and pointed to the closure of the Craw’s Nest Hotel and the Smugglers Inn, and the Barco in Cellardyke being up for sale, as signs that the area was in trouble, coupled with the Dreel closure.

Other pub workers, however, maintained that, despite the difficulties, the local licensed trade was a good one to be in, with added attractions such as live music and a fairly regular flow of visitors among people walking the Fife Coastal Path, as well as regular customers.

The recent lowering of the drink-driving limit had also produced a noticeable reaction among clients, which was applauded for safety reasons,although it meant they were buying less alcohol.

Another pub boss said the immediate post-festive period was traditionally quiet, but business hopefully would pick up again as the holiday season approached.