Lauren returns to Alfie’s to relaunch popular Kirkcaldy town centre pub

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Kirkcaldy town centre’s nightlife has changed beyond recognition across the past decade.

The glory days of Jackie O and Kitty’s belong to the history books - neither building even exists any more - while a number of pubs have enjoyed their moment as the go-to places for great nights out.

Cheap supermarket drink changed the way we went out - later starts and even later finishes became the norm - while lockdown closed the doors of every hospitality business, and life after the pandemic then saw a huge adjustment as people’s socialising habits changed. It is one of the toughest sectors to work in, but the night time economy is crucial to the well being of our town centre.

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Giving people reasons to go out locally rather than to Dunfermline or Edinburgh is the challenge facing every pub and restaurant owner.

Lauren Hutchison at Alfie's Bar (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)Lauren Hutchison at Alfie's Bar (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Lauren Hutchison at Alfie's Bar (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

This week the doors re-opened to the Abbotshall Hotel, one of the Lang Toun’s longest established venues, while Alfie’s bar on the High Street signalled a new start with the return of Lauren Hutchison at the helm. At the opposite end of the street, refurbishment work continues on the Harbour Bar ahead of its re-opening - all positive steps which demonstrate faith in, and commitment to, the High Street.

Alfie’s

“It’s gone full circle,” said Lauren as she took on Alfie’s, the place she helped to launch in 2022.

Last May she re-opened The Steadings, bringing new life back to the Bennochy Road premises which had sat empty since 2019. Nowe she has added Alfie’s to her portfolio

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Inside Alfie's Bar where Lauren Hutchison has taken over at the helm (Pic:  Fife Photo Agency)Inside Alfie's Bar where Lauren Hutchison has taken over at the helm (Pic:  Fife Photo Agency)
Inside Alfie's Bar where Lauren Hutchison has taken over at the helm (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

“We got the keys on the Monday and opened on the Thursday and had a great week,” she said. “It was a very quick turnaround.”

The pub on the corner of Charlotte Street has been part of the town’s nightlife for generations - many will remember it as the Tropicana and then Bar Itza, complete with a Mexican restaurant upstairs.

It was given a new name and new look in 2022 when Lauren, who has worked in hospitality since the age of 13, first took it over

“I am more than happy at The Steadings,” she said, “but when the owners of Alfie’s said they were focussing on Society they knew how much the pub meant to me - I got it open and did the first year trading there which was really successful. Within three weeks I had the keys.”

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Lauren plan to re-open the pub’s kitchen and bring Scottish tapas to the table, while also continuing to run The Steadings.

“I was part of the process getting it up and running so I’m more than happy with the pub. We are looking at offering small plates of tapas - something different you won;t see on the High Street. This is a place where if you are out with friends or your wife or partner you come in for a few drinks, maybe come cocktails and have some light food.”

Offering more choice is one of the keys to bringing people back into town for an evening.

“After Covid, a lot of people were also isolated and there wasn’t much new happening,” she said. “But, people are making a difference to the town centre - and hospitality has always been a huge stamp for Kirkcaldy.

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“There have been a lot of positive changes across the town centre. What we have to do is look and see what is happening elsewhere - not just sticking to our own bubble. People are travelling outwith the town for nights out, so we have to give them reasons to stay local and stay in the town centre. Attract them and keep them - that’s the key.” she said. “I’m no stranger to the High Street, and as long as I get the product right and please as many people as I can I’ll be happy. Alfie’s did a fantastic first year, I know the customers and have a great relationship with them.”

The Abbotshall

Another well known figure within the hospitality sector is also going full circle with the re-opening

Dennis O’Connell is back as mine host with a busy soft launch now under his belt - and lots of positive feedback.

The former hotel is now back in familiar hands after a turbulent time under previous owners, and has been given a substantial refurbishment, complete with a coffee shop, bar and restaurant.

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Customer demand has led to one recruitment evening with a second scheduled, as the landmark building in the west end is brought back to life.

Dennis returned to the Abbotshall after seven years at the helm of the Strathearn Hotel and, before that, running O’Connell’s on the High Street. He actually tried to buy The Abbey some eight years ago, only to be pipped at the post - his plans for it then have been brought up to date for its relaunch. He is very much focused on making it a successful bar and restaurant and one that fits well with the neighbourhood.

The venue was a hugely popular place for functions, hosting many clubs and works outings, and is remembered fondly by many folk across the Lang Toun. Its return has certainly chimed with them.

In a Facebook post, the business said: “This transformation simply would not have been possible without the enormous support from some incredible friends, suppliers and our phenomenal staff who have gone above and beyond. There are just too many people to list personally, but we want to thank each and every one of you.”

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