TWO familiar faces behind the bar at Haddington’s Victoria Inn are calling it a day in the New Year.

Craig and Kirsty Hunter will hand the keys back to owners Greene King in February when their lease expires – after a decade at the helm.

Kirsty, who works as front of house at the Victoria Inn – which includes The Avenue restaurant, five rooms and a bar area – thanked customers for their support over the last 10 years.

Having previously worked at the Macdonald Marine Hotel, North Berwick, she said: “I think both Craig and I have this industry in our genes.

“You have to love this industry to be able to work 70 or 80 hours a week, which is what we do. You have to have it in your blood and enjoy it.”

And she added: “We have had some great times; we have had some real highs and some very difficult times but we have met some amazing people and had really good support from local people and customers. We have made some really good friends out of it.

“Over the 10 years, we have employed in excess of 90 people in full and part-time jobs – without them we could not have done this.”

Craig echoed those sentiments and said that leaving the business came with “a heavy heart” but that the lowering of the drink-drive limit and the increase in various rates had had an impact on their decision.

The business has proven a realfamily affair with the couple’s daughter Bethany and son Gregor occasionally working at the Court Street establishment.

Craig was previously head chef at The Rocks, Dunbar, and also worked with Jim Findlay at the nearby Waterside Bistro.

And despite their departure looming, Kirsty said the couple, who live in Haddington, had no real plans at the moment.

She said: “We get asked that probably five or six times a day. At the moment, we have no plans.

“I think we will have a well-deserved holiday – we have not had a holiday in three-and-a-half years, so we are looking forward to a holiday.”

A sign highlighting that the business is available to let is on the outside of the building but Kirsty stressed that they were open for business as usual until February and were taking bookings for meals over the festive period.