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74-year-old Patricia Dodds has no plans to retire from St Andrews business Harbour Café

Patricia Dodds, owner of Harbour cafe in St Andrews.
Patricia Dodds, owner of Harbour cafe in St Andrews.

When Patricia bought the Harbour Café at 35-years-old, she never imagined she would still be in business 39 years later.

Growing up in St Andrews, she always had a love for the town and despite moving to Edzell with her first husband and having three sons, she was desperate to return.

When her mother told her about the building going up for sale, Patricia saw the café as an opportunity to serve the community as well as spend her time at the harbour.

The Harbour Cafe
Patricia Dodds (74) at Harbour Café in St Andrews which she has run for the last 39 years.

Now separated from her husband, Patricia moved back to St Andrews with her sons and went into partnership with her mother to buy the premises.

39 years later, she is the sole owner and runs the café with four staff members, including one of her great-granddaughters.

Years passed by

It has been a bit of a family affair at the Harbour Café as over the years all of Patricia’s sons worked in the venue, as have her granddaughters and now her great-granddaughter.

When Patricia became the sole owner four years after acquiring it, she explained that the years have passed her by as she continued to run the venue while building a new life with her second husband.

Outside the cafe.

She said: “I don’t know what happened, it just ricocheted.

“The years just passed and life took over with me looking after my sons, my late mother my late husband who was a fisherman at the harbour.

“And now here we are 39 years later.”

Part of the community

With the cafe being open for so long, Patricia has become acquainted with the fishermen at the Harbour and the people who work there.

She says she knows everyone down at the harbour and she herself has become a gem of the community.

She said: “We aren’t just a café that sells toys and beach things and food, we take in parcels for the fishermen and if there are any problems we try to help.”

Inside the cafe.

Despite the challenges that come from running a venue like hers, Patricia still enjoys serving her food every day and says it is her love for the people and the harbour that keeps her going.

She said: “I am such a people person and his café has allowed me to meet people from all over the world.

“And I just love the harbour, it is such an idyllic spot.”

With customers varying over the years, Patricia says this year she has found that it is bigger groups that are coming to visit her café, rather than individuals or couples.

What is on offer at Harbour Cafe?

The food available has not really changed throughout the years with the customers popping by for a bite to eat that is quick and easy to eat.

Choices include chips alongside fish, sausage and egg. Baked potatoes, homemade soup, ordered lobster and occasionally crab can also be enjoyed.

Patricia also sells hot drinks, juice and ice cream so that visitors can sit-in or takeaway their food and drink to enjoy on the beach.

harbour cafe
Staff member Skye Carver, 18, serving up some breakfasts to guests.

With Patricia being the only cook, she never takes a morning off and is always at the café making delicious food. Hard work and being a grafter is in Patricia’s blood as the venue is open seven days a week from 9.30am to 7pm and she even does all of the heavy lifting herself.

She said:” People often ask us what is in the batter of our fish and we tell them it is a secret recipe.

“But we don’t really have a secret recipe, it’s all in the hand and the flexibility in the hand making it.”

Although she would like to serve more crab and lobster, boasting just a small-sized kitchen, Patricia says she doesn’t have the facilities to offer more than they already does.

Future plans

Despite the busy lifestyle of picking up fish from St Monans and visiting the Dundee cash and carries for items, Patricia does not plan on retiring anytime soon.

She said: “I would like to carry on for a bit longer, but maybe do a bit less.

“Perhaps having one morning off a week.”

Outdoor seating area.

With an indoor seating of 12 and outdoor seating of 24, Patricia would like to extend the Harbour cafe and provide a shaded area for those sitting outside.

She said: “The marquees they use in town wouldn’t stand up with the wind at the harbour being so wild.

“We would need something a lot more sturdier to withhold that!”

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