In a small town like St Andrews, any changes that occur on these three streets are hot news. From Marks & Spencers to Topshop, people are continuously trying to guess which will be the latest branch to open their doors on North or South Street; few manage to stay secret for very long. Rascals Bar, however, has kept its location under wraps until this week. The newest addition to St Andrews’ bar scene will be opening up in the infamous location above the New Picture House; once home to The Pitcher House, and before that MacKays, and before that…? Well, who can quite remember. It’s a location that’s always in flux, with few businesses sticking around for longer than a year. Owl Eyes got the chance to speak to Jamie Anderson, the Rascals Bar owner, and get the inside scoop on his plans for coming year…
The first thing I noticed on entering Rascals was the décor; it had not changed much since I’d last been in. The snug booths were still in place, yellow walls, black bar and wooden floors looked the same. Above the door, a glass pane saying ‘Rascals Bar’ had been put in place. As Anderson explained to me, the previous owners had spent a lot of time and money refurbishing the place, “and it’s been quite nicely done!”
“My friend Charlene was the previous owner and when I first came in, I couldn’t believe how much it had changed. I thought ‘Wow! I love this place," explains Anderson. After The Pitcher House closed earlier this year, Anderson took up the lease to start his own business.
As a native St Andrews resident, Anderson knows exactly what the town is all about. Young and upbeat, he seems keen to put all his years of managing various bars, including The Raisin and Ma Bells, to good use, by setting up his first solo project. But what will make Rascals different to any other bar in town?
“What is important is price” Anderson tells me, “and we are going to make our prices very competitive”. Whilst it’s hard to make them as low as bigger companies, such as the Blue Stane, Anderson says he aims to keep up with the more reasonable prices in town, with a double vodka-mix for around £3.40.
His new cocktail menu has been comprised by Riki Smith, with their latest addition – cocktails garnished with sweets, “Flying Saucers on the side, and lollypops for people to dip in their drinks,” jokes Anderson, which seems very in-keeping with the mischievous title of the bar itself, named after Anderson’s own nickname given to him by a friend many years ago.
Good food is also a major emphasis. Anderson makes it clear that Rascals is not trying to be a restaurant, nor is it a sports bar, but a pub that serves very good food. His new chef, Jean-Francois Lavaud, has heavily influenced the menu by putting a French twist on the usual pub classics. “We want to be famous for two things” Anderson points out, “our burgers, which will be homemade and not from frozen, and also our nachos”.
As a town with numerous self-professed nacho connoisseurs, surely Rascals will have to up it’s game to compete with the likes of The Whey Pat and Ogstons? Anderson is insistent that his nachos will come in three sizes, the largest being “the biggest plate you have seen”, and emphasises that they must taste good; blandness is not an option. As well as being open for lunch and dinner, Rascals will be opening at 10am, serving French pastries and cheap coffee for people to takeaway.
However, what students really want to know is will Rascals be aimed solely at them? “Yes, we’re aiming the place primarily at students”, explains Anderson, “but the locals will come too, and probably golfers and tourists as well.” Unlike the heavily student-orientated atmosphere of its predecessor MacKays, Rascals will have a children’s menu and a separate family area towards the back of the pub.
Whilst Anderson explains that Rascals doesn’t have a particular theme as such, its focus is around reasonable prices, good food and a lively atmosphere. “Plus we are introducing two Sky HD televisions with 3D glasses, so people can watch sports matches in 3D”, a gadget that is yet to be seen anywhere else in town.
With the lease signed until 2018, Anderson hopes that Rascals will be around for many years to come, “I don’t want it to be another failure” he says. With his knowledge of the town and youthful enthusiasm, Anderson is confident that Rascals will be here to stay and finally bring the place's transient curse to an end.