LANDLADY Claire Nicoll believes her mum will be having a hoolie in heaven after The Keys Bar was crowned Sunday Mail Pub of the Year 2014.
The 39-year-old publican, who picked up the gong at the DRAM Scottish Licensed Trade Awards on Monday night, says her mum Carol Gordon would have been overjoyed that her St Andrews pub has been voted Scotland’s best.
“We were gobsmacked when we won. The whole experience has been exciting, overwhelming and very surreal. “I’m not superstitious, but in some ways, I think my mum knew we would win.
“The ceremony was in Gordon Street, mum’s surname, we were sitting at table 15 and her birthday was December 15 and I was wearing her pearls. “The award, as well as the pub, is her legacy.” Claire, who runs The Keys with help from dad Stuart, 69, and brother Stuart, 42, added: “The Sunday Mail Pub of the Year mirror will get pride of place above the bar. My parents bought the pub in 1979 and after mum lost her battle with motor neurone disease, we vowed to keep it going in her honour.
“Thirty-five years on and it’s still going strong thanks to our wonderful regulars and the steady flow of tourists who pop in for a wee dram. “We also have wonderful staff, who welcome all our customers with open arms and ensure the pub is still the same happy, warm place it was when mum was here.”
It’s the second Sunday Mail success for St Andrews this year as Janettas ice cream parlour in the town’s South Street scooped our 2014 Golden Cone Award. Claire, who is throwing a party for her regulars today, said: “This year has been fabulous for St Andrews. We were over the moon when Janettas won. “They are an independent family business, just like us, and have done this town proud.” Janettas owner Owen Hazel is equally pleased for The Keys. He said: “We are delighted. It’s a lovely pub and the award is well deserved. “It’s great that we have both put the amazing town of St Andrews on the map.”
The battle to be the best bar none was close this year, with the Scotia Bar and Park Bar in Glasgow and MacGochans on Mull coming in as runners-up. The winners were revealed at a Top of the Pops themed ceremony in Glasgow’s Grand Central Hotel, staged by the DRAM magazine.
Events organiser and magazine editor Susan Young said: “All four of the finalists were superb but The Keys just had to win. It’s a really special, family-run pub and is well loved by everyone in the community. It’s got a heart and soul and everybody who goes there gets a warm welcome.”