IT'S all hail to the ale in Dunfermline with the re-opening last Friday of the Commercial Inn.

It looked like time had been called for good when it closed suddenly in September but spirits are soaring now that former bar manager Andrew Black is running the award-winning pub.

And it's proving a real labour of love for a man who's spent "exactly half of my life" in the Douglas Street boozer and met his wife-to-be there.

Andrew, 36, said: "The High Street has been struggling and there's always competition so it's a tough market.

"We were still trading reasonably well before it shut due to unforeseen circumstances.

"I think people really missed it when it closed but there's still a market for real ales and the locals are very happy they've got their community pub back, as that's what it always was.

"We had a brilliant weekend and I've got most of the crew back who worked here too."

He continued: "I've been here for 18 years, exactly half of my life, and I met my wife, Suzanne, here when we worked together a long time ago!

"I started so I could pay my way through college and loved it as it's like one big family.

"It's been a big part of my life and I didn't want to lose that.

"Things weren't great when it ended, it was a stressful couple of months and I was worried it might not open again.

"It feels good to take it on and while it's going to be tough, I think I'm up to the challenge.

"I couldn't have done it without Suzanne though."

Owned by Hawthorn Leisure, the pub's tradition of selling quality cask ales saw it win the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Fife Pub of the Year award on five occasions.

Andrew's putting in long hours to restore the bar to its former glory and said: "We're certainly making improvements and we've got a much better beer selection, more spirits and better wine.

"We had problems before with running out of stock, and the range we had was out of my control, but that's not going to be an issue now.

"We're bringing in beers that people want and we've improved the menu too with a £10 steak night on Wednesdays and serving food for longer."

There'll be more competition across the road when the old post office is turned into a hotel, bar and restaurant and Andrew said: "I think it'll be fantastic and anything that brings more people into town has to be good."

Part of the Commercial's community-feel will continue with a quiz night on Wednesday in aid of Marie Curie while Andrew will raffle off his black Fender acoustic guitar – "I'm hoping to get it signed by someone famous" – for the charity on Christmas Eve.