Kirkcaldy’s Harbour Bar is set to reopen in the springtime under new ownership as a real ale pub.
Located on the town’s High Street, it has been a pub since 1924. It was owned for 27 years by the late Nick Bromfield, who passed away last summer.
The new publican Jon Stanley, who is originally from Merseyside, trained in medicine and has always had a passion for craft ale and brewing.
He even used to cultivate yeast as part of laboratory research into anti-cancer proteins.
Jon intends to restart the pub’s microbrewery initially creating small batches. His goal is to eventually become a “self-sufficient brewpub”.
Not only has Jon worked in various frontline NHS positions, the 39-year-old has also been involved in the turbulent world of politics.
UKIP and Brexit
A one-time member of UKIP, he quit the party in 2015 and stood down as parliamentary candidate for Westmorland and Lonsdale, citing a culture of bullying and racism.
He got the keys to The Harbour Bar at the end of January and while running a business like this will be a first, he’s been interested in brewing for years.
In fact, it was while working at the European Parliament in Brussels that he became inspired by the city’s drinking establishments.
Jon explains: “My main passion outside anything else is beer. It’s just one of those things I have always been passionate about.
“I worked in Brussels a year and saw how a Belgian pub operates. The life of a Brexiteer seems to be you work a few hours in the office and then spend your time in the bars.”
Describing it as a real ale pub with a twist, Jon intends to bring his love of Belgian bars to the Kirkcaldy establishment. He estimates it will cost around £50,000 to renovate.
He will not be renaming it and he wants to retain the look of the original interior while freshening it up.
“It needs a full face lift but no radical surgery,” he jokes.
“It needs a rewire. All the red is being replaced by Sudbury Yellow which is a dark mustard colour. The benches are being ripped out and I’m going to put some in some back-to-back seating.
“In the lounge we’re going to put in some Chesterfields and wood-effect porcelain tiles.
“It will look like a really nice version of what it is now.”
Once the kitchen is back in commission, Jon intends to serve dishes such mussels, chips in beef dripping and waffles. Coffee will also be available as well as several different types of hot chocolate.
He says the bar will be dog-friendly and an accessible toilet will be fitted.
Jon also has someone lined up for the role of bar manager as he intends to be busy brewing behind the scenes.
Community buy-out bid
When Nick Bromfield passed away last year, the bar was put up for sale with a guide price of £130,000.
Locals launched a bid to raise at least £100,000 to purchase and refurbish The Harbour Bar, and keep it open as a community enterprise. But it wasn’t to be.
Now that it’s in Jon’s ownership he says reaction from locals has been “extremely positive” with word beginning to get around Kirkcaldy.
“I have been inside the bar with the light on – a few people have tried the door,” he laughs.
Jon, who is relocating to the town from Edinburgh, intends to create a beer with Citra hops in honour of former owner and brewer Nick. It will be called Landlord.
Once the pub has reopened, Jon aims to open until 10pm Monday to Thursday and extend the hours at the weekend. More details will be available via social media.
And he doesn’t want politics to get in the way of a good pint. He says: “It won’t have anything to do with the business at all.
“The pub has got to be welcoming to everybody or it isn’t doing its job properly.”