Scotland’s first micro pub to open in Kelso

Simon and Debbie Rutherford who are turning a former knitwear shop in Kelso Market Square into Scotlands first micro-pub
Simon and Debbie Rutherford who are turning a former knitwear shop in Kelso Market Square into Scotlands first micro-pub

Kelso is set to be home to Scotland’s first micro pub after planning permission was granted last week for the new venture.

Simon and Debbie Rutherford are the people behind the project, which will open its doors next month in a former knitwear shop at 38 The Square.

The couple, from Chirnside, have a background in period house renovation and graphic design, but Simon has family links to brewing and distilling through his father, who was instrumental in the resurrection of a distillery on Jura during the 1960s.

It was visits to micro pubs in Berwick and Sheffield that inspired the Kelso project, which is expected to gain licensing authority approval next week.

A micro pub is based on a very different model to regular bars and their shunning of the modern world has been welcomed by many.

Televisions, music, gaming machines and pool tables are strictly off the menu and, rather than offering hot food, micro pubs only offer snacks and small portions of food similar to the tapas and raciones found in Spanish bars.

The Rutherfords will be offering locally-sourced charcuterie, cheeses and pies, as well as local quality ales from micro breweries – including the Born in the Borders Brewery – plus Scottish craft gins and whiskies.

“We’d been looking for a premises for some time,” said Simon, who explained that another ‘rule’ of the micro pub ethos is that it is based in a previously-closed shop, as this is breathing life back into the high streets.

The very first micro pub, and the movement that followed, is credited to Martyn Hillier who opened The Butcher’s Arms in Kent in 2005 following a change in licensing laws making it easier to open a small, independent public house.

There are now around 100 micro pubs in England, with new ones opening at the rate of five each week.

“We see Rutherfords as offering something very different,” Simon explained.

“Micro pubs are all about the experience and the focus is very much on conversation, and the size and layout actually encourages conversation.

“It’s really all about the way pubs used to be – a sanctuary and an antidote to the hustle and bustle of modern life.”