A “self-combusting” tea towel started a terrible fire that resulted in a massive renovation of Fife’s Boat Brae restaurant.
The blaze was a devastating blow for owners Alan and Moira Beaton and their daughter Fiona.
But after re-opening a year ago, the family behind the popular foodie destination say they haven’t looked back.
The Newport business shut suddenly in July 2022 after a fire started in the early hours of the morning destroying its interior.
Fortunately, the fire was restricted to a single section, but the smoke permeated the entire structure.
At Boat Brae, the smoke damage was so bad the plumbing and electricity had to be replaced. This resulted in the business being closed for five months.
Fiona said: “The scale of the damage was terrible. It was a really stressful and complicated time.
“You lose control of where you’re going and what’s going to happen but we managed to get through it.”
Boat Brae in Fife rises from ashes
What followed was a five-month refurbishment. Thankfully, Alan is an interior designer and architect, so he had a vision for what was required.
The library area of the bar was incorporated into the restaurant while screens were removed from the bar, to improve the live music experience.
Fiona said: “After the fire, the restoration and decoration were very important.
“We wanted to get the place back to being as beautiful as it was before the fire, with its comfortable timeless look.”
The venue has amazing features such as panoramic windows and mirrors on the walls to make sure the view of Tay Road and Rail bridges are visible throughout.
What’s on the menu at Boat Brae?
The Boat Brae owners are looking to maximise the Fife restaurant to its full potential.
Fiona said providing good food, which anyone can enjoy, is part of their ethos.
She said: “We always wanted a bistro-type menu that is accessible for everyone.
“We have a good combo of classics like burgers, fish and chips and then we have rotating seasonal dishes too.
“It’s great to be open again and we can’t wait to welcome the public to our warm and friendly restaurant.”
The restaurant has classics such as bread and butter pudding, macaroni cheese, caesar salad and sandwiches.
Alan added: “We don’t want it to have the image of fine dining even though we have great food.
“If you want something simple it’s there and if you want to have finer dining, we can provide that also. It’s giving people the choice”.
Empowering women in hospitality
Unusually for the hospitality industry, there have been several female chefs working in the Boat Brae kitchen since opening in 2019.
Empowering women in the sector is a particular passion of Fiona’s.
She said: “The hospitality industry is very male dominated. It’s nice to have females running the place.
“For me as operations director of a large hospitality venue, it would be nice to make a mark on the industry.”
The family said they were pleased to share their passion for food with delighted customers.
Fiona added: “Eating and coming together with your family no matter where you are in the world is such an important part of life.
“For me, Boat Brae is there to create somewhere for people to come which is open, friendly, and welcoming”.
Alan added: “Food is an important part of our life. Cooking is considered a special thing for us to do and that’s what life is about.”