On Christmas Eve 1983, stocked with only two bottles of single malt and a secret ice cream recipe brought from Italy, the Fusaro brothers opened for business.
A little over 40 years later, Luigi, Vincent and Anthony — whose portmanteau just so happens to spell Luvians — celebrate having their company become a by-word for family success.
The next generation of Fusaros, Emili (daughter of Vincent) and Chris (son of Luigi) are now preparing to take the reins of the well-loved cafe and bottle shops.
In the first part of 2024, the St Andrews coffee shop will under go a refurbishment, which Emili hopes reflects the family’s roots, as well as giving the shop a refresh.
The last years have not been without challenge, Emili points out, between Brexit, the economic downturn and the pandemic.
But with a willingness to adapt, and a tight-knit family ethos, the company has been able to steady itself in rough economic seas.
Time to celebrate a rich family history
Most importantly for the Fusaros is the sense that everything starts with the family.
They have built a kinship not just in the shops, but with the Fife communities they serve.
There is a cafe and ice cream parlour in St Andrews, not 150 metres from to the bottle shop.
And in Cupar, the original bottle shop still attracts customers from as far away as Beijing and Dallas.
“Our grandparents travelled to Scotland, over from Italy in the 50s, just after the war,” she said.
“They started a small ice cream company in Ayrshire.
“Then in the 1980s, my dad and his brothers took over, after the family had moved to Fife.
“On Christmas Eve 1983, Luigi, Vincent and Anthony opened Luvians — taking the first two letters of their names, Lu-Vi-An.
“They started with two bottles of whisky and now the shop is world renowned, with repeat visitors travelling to St Andrews and Cupar just to pick-up something from our shop.
“Now, Chris and I are taking the lead, still under the guide of the three brothers.
“It is so lovely being able to work together, as a family, during this period.”
Quick to adapt
Emili points out the adaptability which comes with being a tightly-run, family-owned business.
As well as being able to offer a more personal service than the bigger chains, the pace at which they can change during economic downturns or shock events like the pandemic is also a plus.
“People come to us because the quality of our products is better.
“Not just that, but the warm welcome, great service and tailored advice we offer.
“In St Andrews, our stores are more ‘stumbled upon’. People are coming to St Andrews to see the town, the university, the golf course.
“But in Cupar, our bottle shop is the destination. We have customers who fly over and seek us out, from China, the US, the world over really.
“We have a saying with our staff, once you are part of the Luvians family, you never leave’.
“Being a small, family run business means we can be very quick at adapting to market needs.
“For example, in lockdown, we closed of course to keep the public and staff safe, but we were able to offer a delivery service, almost like a click and collect.”
No Brexit bonus for Luvians of Fife
Like many businesses in Fife and across Scotland, Brexit has brought significant challenges to how Luvians operates, Emili points out.
Red-tape and bureaucratic headaches have meant an end to exporting to the continent for now.
Delays on products being shipped across have also had an impact.
“Brexit has brought challenges, in both directions,” she said.
“There is a lot more red-tape and paperwork, for both buying and selling.
“Even for something as simple as glass — a lot of glass is made in Italy, Germany and France. So it can take longer for bottles to be manufactured and sent here.
“We now no longer export products to Europe.
“It has affected us, we just have to do what we can.”
But as a group, the focus is on the future.
There are “very exciting” plans for the company this year, as the family heads into its fifth decade of trading.
Meanwhile, the Fusaros say they will continue to welcome customers young and old for another 40 years at least.