AN AWARD-WINNING chef is returning to his former home by re-opening a restaurant next to the River Tyne at Haddington.

Dougie Bonar will work alongside Kirsten Finlayson and Martin Blackburn in opening Tynehouse: restaurant, teahouse and cocktail bar on the town’s Poldrate.

The restaurant, which last traded as the Waterloo Bistro, has sat empty for about four years but now looks set to reopen within the next four weeks.

Dougie, who ran the business from 1999 to 2007 as Bonars, is looking forward to getting back in the kitchen.

He said: “I came down here one day and was thinking, ‘What am I going to do with myself?’ I thought it was a real shame that the building was closed so I got hold of the owners. I decided when I saw it that I wanted to run it again.”

Now Dougie – along with Kirsten (front of house) and business partner Martin – is working hard to breathe new life into the venue. The trio have ambitious plans for the restaurant, which they hope will cater to a large number of people in Haddington and beyond.

Dougie, who has worked down south, picking up awards in Bath, is no stranger to the area having previously served food in Bonars in Gifford.

He said: “It is going to be relaxed, child-friendly but also for cyclists who are looking for places to stop and have a biscuit and a cup of tea.

What I have noticed in Haddington is there are a lot more houses now. The situation here is that we’re not outside Haddington anymore. There are houses where there were never houses before and it is trying to catch that footfall.”

Kirsten, who previously worked front of house at Cromlix Hotel, near Dunblane, was similarly eager to open the doors.

Work is ongoing to create a new restaurant area, with a separate bar, with another area specialising in cakes and pastries.

Kirsten, who has worked in hospitality for 30 years, said: “I have delivered a very professional but customer-focused service. Really, we are aiming to meet customer expectations and surpassing them. I really hope that the Tynehouse is a real hub of the community and we are very much wanting to be involved within the community, helping to host and work with other businesses, host charitable events and really get involved in the town.”

Meanwhile, Dougie and Martin are investigating introducing a shuttle bus to bring in patrons from out of town.

The business has been granted a number of occasional alcohol licences to allow it to operate while it applies for a permanent one. At a meeting of East Lothian Licensing Board, Martin said they were looking at making their business and Haddington a top food and drink destination.

He told the board that they were investigating introducing a shuttle bus which would bring people in from outlying towns and villages.

He added that his business partner Dougie Bonar had been talking to an Edinburgh tour operator who is keen to bring tours to the East Lothian town.

The board heard there was one representation which did not object to the licence but raised concerns about parking, potential noise from outdoors drinking in the courtyard at night, and the impact of the licensed premises on other businesses.

Martin told the board: “I have moved into one of the flats above the restaurant with my family. I have young kids and I have no intention of having loud noise outside. At the end of the day, if the residents are not happy it will not be a happy working environment for us.”