Hibs legend’s old pub is toast of the Capital yet again

Euan McGrory presents the Evening News Pub of the Year award to the owner of Bowlers' Rest Eric Morrison pictured with his daughter Carole McKenzie and her husband Ross McKenzie. Pic credit: Greg Macvean.

Euan McGrory presents the Evening News Pub of the Year award to the owner of Bowlers' Rest Eric Morrison pictured with his daughter Carole McKenzie and her husband Ross McKenzie. Pic credit: Greg Macvean.

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In constantly changing world, the reliable routine of a local boozer has won the hearts of locals to win the Evening News Pub of the Year yet again.

Affectionately known as Reilly’s after previous owner and former Hibs hero Lawrie Reilly, The Bowlers’ Rest in Mitchell Street, Leith, has clinched the prize for the second consecutive year.

Winning once was a surprise, but regaining the top spot was hailed by staff as “a really big deal”.

General manager Ross McKenzie, son-in-law of Eric Morrison, who has owned the pub for the last 24 years, said: “This is a family-run pub owned by Eric and we all work here; my wife, my two brother-in-laws and Eric’s wife and me.

“The regulars know what to expect, they know who works when, who will be behind the bar at certain times. They will walk in the door and if it is someone different pulling the pints they’ll ask ‘where’s Ross?’, or ‘where’s Carol?’.”

And Ross believes the welcoming family atmosphere and traditional menu is to thank for the pub’s continued popularity. “We offer nibbles and burgers and paninis but customers know it is steak pie on a Tuesday and chicken curry on a Thursday.”

Owner Eric took over the pub from football legend Reilly, who had been at the helm for more than 30 years prior – a dedication to which hangs on one of the pub’s walls.

“On the opposite wall we have a picture of Hearts hero Willie Bauld – you’ve got to keep both sides happy,” laughed Ross.

And with another year under the Bowlers’ Rest hat, he is hopeful of making it a hat-trick.

“We’re already looking to next year,” he said. “We would like to have a big celebration to mark 25 years – that’s a long time in charge of a pub these days.”

The Bowlers’ Rest beat off competition from nearly 300 other pubs in the Evening News readers vote.

In second place was The Harbour Inn on Fishmarket Sqaure and pub landlord John Martin said the award had made him quite emotional.

“We are a quirky wee traditional pub in the heart of Newhaven and I am overwhelmed by the amount of votes we got,” she said. “Our customers are amazing. They’re off the planet and have made me feel totally emotional.

“We’re a very local pub in a big city and unless you know we’re here you might not come. We do exactly what it says on the tin and I’m well chuffed – a huge thanks to all the Harbour customers.”

And the cosy, home-from-home atmosphere at Carriers Quarters on Bernard Street, considered the oldest pub in Leith, won them third place.

Superviser Holly Croucher said: “We’re all really chuffed to have come third.

“Even making it to the top ten was good enough for us, so it is absolutely fantastic to be in the top three and a big thank you to everyone who voted for us.

“We have our own little community here but we’d love to see some new faces.”

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk