THE popular Howies restaurant chain has been saved from the axe – by its founder.
David Howie Scott, who opened the first Howies restaurant in 1990, has bought back three of the eateries, securing 63 jobs.
The Victoria Street, Waterloo Place and Aberdeen Chapel Street branches will all once again be under his ownership.
But the Alva Street and Bruntsfield restaurants, which are now no longer part of the group, have been closed by administrators.
Mr Scott said: “It’s a very exciting time for the group – it is the middle of a recession, but when I opened in 1990 we were in a recession too, albeit not as bad.
“We’re sure the group can thrive in this marketplace.
“Our plan is to go back to our core brand values – great, well-cooked food that’s locally sourced, with fixed price menus.
“We’re also going to undertake some refurbishment and we want to make the business more personal again, motivating the staff and looking after them on a personal basis.
“And we also have plans to build closer relationships with farmers.
“We have some land in Perthshire and we’ll be sourcing our venison from there.”
Howies started off as a single restaurant in St Leonard’s Street before becoming something of an institution with branches in St Andrews, Dundee and Aberdeen.
In 2007, entrepreneur Cameron McColl took over the business from Mr Scott following a £2 million management buy-out. But in August, Mr McColl sold up.
The restaurants were offered for sale at a combined value of offers over £485,000, although bids for individual restaurants were also considered.
Mr Scott’s wife and business partner, the writer and broadcaster Alison Craig, said: “When we heard Howies was in administration and for sale we just had to buy it back.
“So we’re thrilled that Howies Waterloo Place, Victoria Street and Chapel Street Aberdeen are ours once again.
“Howies’ greatest asset has always been its staff and customers, some of whom have been with Howies since the early days.
“This move has secured nearly 65 jobs in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
“Unfortunately, buying the whole group back did not make sense.
“Since we sold the restaurants, I think a bit of the heart went out of Howies, but we’re going to be refurbishing the restaurants and giving them back a bit of their mojo.”