A POPULAR Dunfermline restaurant is preparing to re-open after three months of "earning absolutely nothing" and wondering when or even if they could trade again.

Jack 'O' Bryan's in Chalmers Street, run by the Coghill family from Newmills, brought fine dining to the town in January 2019 after a successful venture in Leith.

They'll re-open on Wednesday, July 22 – new safety measures include taking the temperature of customers – and within 24 hours of the announcement, bookings had flooded in, boosting recovery hopes after being forced to shut in March.

There's further good news with possible expansion plans and a new arrival for the family on the way, a welcome boost after such an uncertain time for restaurants everywhere.

Head chef Bryan Coghill told the Press: "What have the three months been like? Bad. The whole hospitality industry has been sitting there earning absolutely nothing.

"The ones that have managed to do takeaway food have battled through but we decided against it to protect staff and because no-one knew how long this was going to go on for.

"Financially, who knows when restaurants will recoup the losses from the last few months?

"The grants of £10,000 for operators isn't going to make up for it, nowhere near, it's a drop in the ocean."

COVID-19 forced restaurants to close just before the busiest day in the hospitality calendar, Mother's Day, and if social distancing rules had remained at two metres, Jack 'O' Bryan's wouldn't re-open.

The restaurant is named after Bryan and his son, Jack, and he admitted: "That would've been the end. If they had stayed with the two metres, we would definitely have had to close as the capacity would have reduced to a level there'd be no point opening the doors."

They've still had to reduce the number of tables from 18 to 11 and new measures include longer opening hours, changes to the menus, a two-hour limit on the table, screens in place and a makeover for the outside seating area.

Temperatures will be taken and they will insist on having every diner's details in case they're needed for test and trace purposes. Fail on either count and they won't be allowed in.

Bryan said: "I have a responsibility to keep customers safe as possible, that's why we're taking extra time so we can do it properly, but also my staff and my family.

"People have to be responsible. If they're not feeling well, they shouldn't be in a restaurant anyway.

"If everyone abides by what they're being told and uses their common sense, and businesses are making every effort to put in procedures to keep everyone safe, that has to be the way forward."

There are positive signs for the future with Jack's partner, Sarah, due to have a baby in December while expansion plans are "still in the pipeline", despite a search for new premises being halted during lockdown.

The hope was to give Jack, one of the top pastry chefs in the UK, a bigger kitchen to let his talents flourish while keeping the current Jack 'O' Bryan's going too.

Bryan said: "We've built it up into a fantastic wee restaurant and I'm really looking forward to re-opening. People need to mix and be social, have a laugh and some banter and look at the lighter side of life.

"It will be tough. We've had bills to pay and no income coming through the door and we're not going back to what it was before.

"There's reduced capacity, which puts more pressure on the business and we don't know how long that will go on for, and no-one knows what customer confidence is going to be like.

"We need people to come through the door, if they don't, there's no business."